Digital Identities:
Design and Uses

A project of the Centre for Internet and Society, India
supported by Omidyar Network

Core Concepts and Processes

September 13, 2019

Read the glossary

When we embarked on this research project, we began with the primary questions of what constitutes a digital identity system. Through a preliminary study of existing identity systems, we have arrived at these core set of concepts and processes that mark a digital identity system. This illustrated and interactive glossary can serve as an easy reference for anyone seeking an introduction to digital identity.

Authentication in Digital Identity Systems

Comments to
the ID4D Practitioners’ Guide

August 7, 2019

Read our comments

This post presents our comments to the ID4D Practitioners’ Guide: Draft For Consultation released by ID4D in June, 2019. CIS has conducted research on issues related to digital identity since 2012. This submission is divided into three main parts. The first part (General Comments) contains the high-level comments on the Practitioners’ Guide, while the second part (Specific Comments) addresses individual sections in the Guide. The third and final part (Additional Comments) does not relate to particulars in the Practitioners' Guide but other documents that it relies upon. We submitted these comments to ID4D on August 5, 2019.

Research Plan

July 26, 2019

Read Research Plan

In our research project about uses & design of digital identity systems, we ask two core questions: a) What are appropriate uses of ID?, and b) How should we think about the technological design of ID? Towards the first research question, we have worked on first principles and will further develop definitions, legal tests and applications of these principles. Towards the second research question, we have first identified a set of existing and planned digital identity systems that represent a paradigm of how such a system can be envisioned and implemented, and will look to identify key design choices which are causing divergence in paradigm.

Holding ID Issuers Accountable, What Works?

July 17, 2019

Read Event Report

RightsCon Panel

Together with the Institute of Technology & Society (ITS), Brazil, and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), Kenya, CIS participated at a side event in RightsCon 2019 held in Tunisia, titled Holding ID Issuers Accountable, What Works?, organised by the Omidyar Network. The event was attended by researchers and advocates from nearly 20 countries.

The Appropriate Use of Digital Identity

June 11, 2019

Read and comment: Draft framework by CIS

Download: Working drafts by CIPIT, CIS, and ITS

As governments across the globe implement new, foundational, digital identification systems (“Digital ID”), or modernize existing ID programs, there is dire need for greater research and discussion about appropriate uses of Digital ID systems. This significant momentum for creating Digital ID in several parts of the world has been accompanied with concerns about the privacy and exclusion harms of a state issued Digital ID system, resulting in campaigns and litigations in countries such as UK, India, Kenya, and Jamaica. Given the very large range of considerations required to evaluate Digital ID projects, it is necessary to think of evaluation frameworks that can be used for this purpose.

At RightsCon 2019 in Tunis, we are presenting working drafts on appropriate use of Digital ID by the partner organisations of this three-region research alliance - ITS from Brazil, CIPIT from Kenya, and CIS from India.

In the draft by CIS, we propose a set of principles against which Digital ID may be evaluated. We hope that these draft principles can evolve into a set of best practices that can be used by policymakers when they create and implement Digital ID systems, provide guidance to civil society examinations of Digital ID and highlight questions for further research on the subject. We have drawn from approaches used in documents such as the necessary and proportionate principles, the OECD privacy guidelines and scholarship on harms based approaches.

Picking ‘Wholes’
Thinking in Systems Workshop

May 29, 2019

Read Event Report

We invited Dinesh Korjan to our Delhi office on May 27-28 to conduct a workshop about using systems thinking in design. The workshop was a step towards devising a rigourous and multidisciplinary methodology to study digital identity ecosystems globally.

Systems thinking in Design Workshop, Delhi, May 27-28, 2019

Research Grant on Digital Identities: Design and Uses

May 7, 2019

Read: Announcement of the research alliance

We are happy to announce a new research grant on Digital Identities at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS). This grant is supported by Omidyar Network India, as part of a three region alliance to be co-led by the Institute for Technology & Society (ITS), Brazil, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), Kenya, and the CIS, India — on the Appropriate Use of Digital Identity. As part of this Alliance, we at the CIS will look at the policy objectives of digital identity projects, how technological policy choices can be thought through to meet the objectives, and how legitimate uses of a digital identity framework may be evaluated.

There is significant momentum on creation of digital identity projects especially after the adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.9, which calls for legal identity for all by 2030. Given the importance of this subject, its implications for both the development agenda as well its impact on civil, social and economic rights, there is a need for more focused research that can enable policymakers to take better decisions, guide civil society in different jurisdictions to comment on and raise questions about digital identity schemes, and provide actionable material to the industry to create identity solutions that are privacy enhancing and inclusive. We look forward to producing research that can contribute to the above.

Read the blog post by Subhashish Bhadra (Principal, Investments, Omidyar Network) announcing the three-region research alliance on the appropriate use of digital identity.

Digital Identities:
Design and Uses

Project Team

Amber Sinha Twitter
Saumyaa Naidu Twitter
Shruti Trikanad Twitter
Sumandro Chattapadhyay Twitter
Sunil Abraham Twitter
Yesha Paul Twitter

 

Advisors

Pooja Saxena Twitter

This website presents research undertaken by the Centre for Internet and Society, India on appropriate design choices for digital identity frameworks, and their implications for both the sustainable development agenda as well for civil, social and economic rights. This research is supported by a grant from Omidyar Network India.

CIS is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. Through its diverse initiatives, CIS explores, intervenes in, and advances contemporary discourse and regulatory practices around internet, technology, and society in India, and elsewhere.