A few months ago, we published the findings of our research on civil society advocacy on digital ID systems across the globe. For this project, we spent a year working with a team of researchers in four countries (Indonesia, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Uganda), looking at how organised civil society actors seek to shape the design, implementation and oversight of digital ID systems, so as to mitigate or eliminate potential harms to vulnerable populations.
One of our main findings was the fact that, when it comes to digital ID systems, civil society actors have been pushed to work reactively, rather than proactively. We saw that groups were more often pushing for change within problematic proposals and systems, rather than being able to proactively advocate for a system that could meet the needs their communities actually face. In other words, civil society has been grappling with the impact and harms of digital ID systems as they are implemented, and not having the time or space to envision alternative frameworks for identification systems that put people’s needs and wants first. Throughout the research, justice was articulated by these actors as access – to better registration processes and to the services these IDs serve as barriers towards. And while access is crucial, as actors are reacting to material conditions on the ground, our research got us thinking that civil society, especially groups that represent and advocate for the most marginalised populations, could be leading the process of shaping digital ID systems that are rooted in justice for their contexts.
With that in mind, we partnered with A People’s Guide to Tech to develop A Digital ID Handbook for civil society, a resource based on our research and APGT’s wealth of experience in popular education and in translating complex concepts into accessible information.
In the handbook, you will find a primer on digital ID systems, along with activities to support civil society organisations in developing their advocacy strategies for dealing with digital ID implementation and to exercise their ability to visualise what digital ID systems grounded in justice could look like. We hope this resource will be useful to civil society organisations and activists interested in learning more about digital ID and designing their own strategies for addressing these systems.
If you would like support to facilitate the activities available in the workbook, please reach out to us at hello[at]theengineroom.org! We’d be happy to work with you.