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Together Debate Digital IDs A Threat to Privacy and Freedom

28 March 2022 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm BST

Is the growing trend towards using a Digital ID to access an increasing number of services and products a threat to our privacy and rights?

About this event

There are significant benefits to having an accepted and recognized digital identity. From airports to health records systems, those managing those organisations are digitizing our identities in an attempt to make life more efficient and streamlined. Governments seek to digitize more, in an effort to give greater and easier access to government services, while the banking, travel, and insurance industries aim to create more seamless processes for their products.

However Digital IDs can pose greater risks to human rights than any technology that we have encountered. We are rushing into a future where new technologies will converge to make this risk much more severe.

Biometric databases are being set up in such a way that these individual identifiers are centralized, insecure, and opaque. Then there is the capacity for geo location of identifiers, the tracking of digital footprint in real time. A constant feed of insecure data from the internet may well connect people and their identities to other identities without their consent.

Derived Digital Identity, an identity profile gleaned from metadata sifted from social media, is a risk for individuals. Social media use is packaged up and made available for research purposes via APIs. Big data tools and AI can develop models to create ‘digital publics’ – groups determined by interests, geography, race, religion. This could be used to target individuals for nefarious uses by government and non-government threat actors to target or essentially spread misinformation when necessary and some attempts to even compromise access to information.”

Systems using artificial intelligence and machine learning are used to make decisions based on our identities are often built on data that can reinforce bias and discrimination and are used without transparency or human interaction. Ultimately, social credit systems, such as those that are currently used in China, will be based on digital ID, thereby enabling, or disabling our full and free participation in society.

By developing these technologies with systems, Digital IDs will become necessary to function in a connected digital world and are becoming the tool of authoritarian regimes. Already, they are splintering the internet, collecting, and localizing data and impose surveillance and control. Digital ID systems, as they are being developed today, are ripe for exploitation and abuse, to the detriment of our freedoms and democracies. How do we prevent governments from using Digital IDs for nefarious purposes?

Digital IDs should never be mandated. We should have the option to say no to any demand that we have a digital ID, without prejudice or negative repercussions.

A digital ID system should be decentralized. Anonymity must be preserved, and our data protected. Transparency is essential. Without transparency, there is no accountability, and few pathways for remedy of human rights abuse. Personal information provided for one purpose should not be made available for identification for law enforcement purposes, without being subject to these vital legal standards. One single digital identity used for authentication of multiple contexts creates the potential for pervasive profiling. What can we do as citizens to ensure that Digital IDs adhere to the criteria we determine to protect ourselves?

We must build in necessary democratic rights protections to mitigate harm. Our civil liberties should be the foundation upon which digital ID technologies, platforms, and systems are being built. Otherwise, in the quest to create a digital identity for the benefit of many, our fundamental rights are at stake. How do we protect our rights from the threat that Digital IDs may pose?

Is any form of Digital ID a problem? The government has said it will not be compulsory to have Digital ID to show landlords and work, but how long would this be for? What about those demographics that cannot do so? What is the significance of Central Bank Digital Currency to citizens? Would a no cash society be such a problem? How concerned should we be that Bank for International Settlements representative said Central Banks would have “absolute control” over rules and regulations of such activity? Is the concern around Social Credit Systems too dramatic? What can be done by ordinary people about any and all of this?




28 March 2022
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm BST
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The Light Bar
233 Shoreditch High Street
London, E1 6PJ United Kingdom
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