What’s the news? An open letter issued by civil society organisations and individuals on September 7 asks the World Bank to stop supporting “unchecked digital ID systems that enable surveillance, exclusion, and discrimination”. This is in reference to the World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative which “helps establish new, or upgrade existing, digital ID systems.” “By implementing digital ID systems that are unchecked, untested, and, most importantly, at odds with human rights, this high-level institution is not only risking the privacy of millions, but setting a dangerous precedent for global decision-makers,” said Marianne Díaz Hernández, a campaigner at Access Now, which is a digital rights focused non-profit organisation. Why it matters: The open letter highlights the example of India’s biometric-based digital identification system – Aadhaar. Poorly planned ID systems have affected human rights in India, the Access Now press release says. “Aadhaar, operates as a tool for exclusion, disenfranchising almost two million people.” Aadhaar is no longer optional and has become mandatory for availing several benefits like cooking gas subsidy (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh or PAHAL), Ayushman Bharat and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Despite the relevance of Aadhaar, there have been cases of data breaches. A potential data leak due to mismanagement could have exposed the personal data of 11 cr Indian farmers, including their Aadhaar numbers, according to this news report. What’s ID4D? ID4D is an initiative by the world bank to help countries build digital ID and civil registration systems. ID4D is helping 49 countries with…
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