How Countries Use Digital ID to Exclude Vulnerable People

Source: Adobe/fgnopporn

Eve Hayes de Kalaf, Research Associate, CLACS University of London, and School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen.

The world has become interconnected at a level we never before imagined possible. States, banking, communications, transport, tech, and international development organizations have all embraced digital identification. The current conversation hinges on the need to speed up registrations to ensure that every person on this planet has their own digital ID.

We have not stumbled into this new age of digital data management unwittingly. International organizations such as the World Bank and the UN have actively encouraged states to provide citizens with proof of their legal existence in an effort to combat structural poverty, statelessness and social exclusion.

To achieve this, social policy has deliberately targeted poor and vulnerable populations – including indigenous and Afro-descended people and women – to ensure they get an ID card to receive welfare payments. By aiming to include marginalized populations, they are targeting groups that historically have faced systematic exclusion and have been barred from formal recognition as

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