For many of us this is a normal request. We produce birth certificates, drivers licences, passports, or in some places National ID cards. It is a part of life which causes us little anxiety. And so the idea of taking all of this digital is a no brainer.
However for some of us, this request causes our anxiety to skyrocket. Some of us were not registered at birth, some were registered as a different gender than they are today or we don’t ‘look’ like the gender on our ID. Some of us had our IDs stripped or stolen from us or we simply fell through the ‘cracks’ in the system. And so we don’t have IDs to show. And so the idea of taking all of this digital is our worst nightmare.
‘The system says you don’t exist.’
‘But I do exist as I’m standing in front of you.’
‘I know, but the system says you don’t exist, so you don’t.’
‘But I am here.’
‘Yes, but you aren’t. Next please.’
Digital identity systems can work well for society if we start with figuring out how to ensure we those currently not identified can have identity documents. The challenge occurs when either we don’t want to acknowledge the existence of the other or they don’t want to be identified.
The strength and relevance of digital identification systems will be tested, not on the technical details of the technology, but rather on how it deals with inclusion. And that is not a technology question, but a human one.
Perhaps it’s time (actually is long overdue) to stop fixating on the technology and focus on the human side of ID systems.
The choice is up to us.
P.S. Here’s another good article to read which brings this home even further.