By no means is this list exhaustive, but here are 4 considerations when thinking about identity, especially inclusive ID or identity for all.
1.Inclusive ID is not the same as digital ID
Inclusive ID, Identity for all, and the SDG goal is not the same as digital ID. For some reason, we tend to equate the two, but they are not the same. Digital can help contribute to achieving identity for all, but the SDG goal is not digital identity for all. Identity is effectively a characteristic about you. An identity document is a claim or statement someone or some entity made about you. While digital is simply the format in which it is presented or stored.
2. Identity literacy should not be assumed
We rarely talk about identity literacy but many of us are illiterate. There is a need to help people understand the value of identity and identity documentation. Most of us learn this the hard way – when we can’t register our kids for school or when we denied a service of some sort. However, identity literacy becomes exponentially more important when we go digital. There is a need to couple digital literacy with identity literacy. Without it, long term harm is too easily done. Even in the digital ID space, the technology should only be 20% of the effort, 80% needs to focus on the human side of identity.
3. Identity documentation (credential) design needs to be a thing
This also becomes exponentially more important in the digital space, but is important in analogue. By design I mean everything from how the individual will access it to thinking about the ecosystem in which they are to use it. Some basic questions should be: Is it portable? Can I use it where and when I decide to without the involvement of the issuer? Has it been designed for all or simply the majority? (It’s hard for me not to get angry when people talk about identity for all or inclusive ID when their design requires a smartphone).
4. Identity is individual AND collective
This is part philosophical and partly governance. Philosophically our identity is often defined in relation to something else once we get beyond physical characteristics like eye colour. And because our identity is actually a collection of multiple identities – I am father, immigrant, Canadian, gardener, aeroplan member, and so on. Therefore our identity is wrapped up in the collective society in which I function. But also governance is required because the ecosystem doesn’t function without it. And governance is about rules and power. But it also is about how things work together which is critical for identification documents – they need to work for the individual AND the collective. Whether that collective is the local library, an aid organisation, or the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics department of the national government.
Oh and one last thing. Identity does not equal biometrics. Just had to say it.