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Digital identity interest group forms with initial meeting at the LSE

Digital identity interest group forms with initial meeting at the LSE

Experts on digital identity and intersecting disciplines gathered at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) this week, initially to discuss the topic “When the State builds digital identity: Experiences from India, Kenya and Beyond,” as a means to determine interest in establishing an interest group and future meetings.

Academics from a range of fields, civil society organizations, lawyers and even Biometric Update attended the workshop. The group was coordinated by Silvia Masiero of the University of Oslo, Keren Weitzberg of Queen Mary University of London and Malavika Raghavan, lawyer and PhD candidate at the LSE.

Participants discussed who is in control in digital identity ecosystems, and the differences when a state is the builder and user, compared to private ID or humanitarian systems.

They discussed the role, influence and responsibilities of international organizations such as ID4Africa and World Bank, as well as those of significant private firms and how states make decisions about private services.

They questioned whether there is an emerging crypto culture within identity and how new systems are shifting the burden of producing evidence onto individuals.

Discussion flowed to corruption and to what extent identity issues are inevitable, such as the weakening of local institutions and politics by centralized identity systems.

Participants called for transformative policy design and further attempts at mapping the future of identity.

A great many other issues were discussed as participants introduced their own research and interests and how they intersect with identity and digital identity, spanning the gig economy, personhood, financial inclusion, social protection, human-computer interaction, trust frameworks, fraud, fintech, SSI, health passes, the stripping of citizenship, facial recognition, how tech regulates the people, design justice and the fact that digital identity schemes still require human staff and infrastructure to operate.

After a successful first gathering, the group plans to further the discussion and define a schedule and direction – and even a name.

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