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Access Now warns of risks inherent in national digital identity programmes

Author: Access Now (USA), Published on: 21 March 2018

"National digital identity programmes: what’s next?", 21 Mar 2018

Governments globally are...proposing or implementing national digital identity programmes. Such programmes entail a push to collect, store, and use the biometrics of individuals as the primary means of establishing and authenticating their identity....these programmes either contemplate or create a centralised database of this highly sensitive... information. These programmes can undermine the right to privacy​ and freedom of movement, expression​ and other protected rights. Further...they are susceptible to breach by malicious actors or abuse by public authorities, they also carry risks for cybersecurity and information disclosure​. When they are biometrically linked and made mandatory, they have the potential to turn a digital ID into a pervasive means of identification, tracking, or control. Proponents of biometrics linked-national ID programmes argue that they bring benefits such as more accurate and efficient delivery of government services, anti-poverty regimes, and welfare schemes...however, critics have responded by noting that national digital identity schemes may not...ensure more effective distribution of benefits, better service delivery, or improved governance, and at the same time, they raise serious concerns...about how such programmes are designed or governed; the potential for social exclusion, privacy, data protection; and cybersecurity.

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