Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
There is a disingenuous and concerted effort to get citizens around the world to adopt digital IDs. A digital ID has several meanings and forms, but it is exactly what it sounds like, a digitized version of your personal identification.
This push is allegedly from the usual globalist institutions such as the World Economic Forum, the World Bank Organization, and one of the world’s largest billionaires, Bill Gates. Gates has invested a considerable amount of money and efforts into initiatives to make the concept of digital IDs mainstream.
In September, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced $200 million in additional funding as part of a $1.27 billion commitment to “global health and development programs,” which includes developing a system for digital IDs around the world. Through Microsoft, Bill Gates is also invested in a similar initiative called ID2020, which claims to be “advocating for ethical approaches to digital ID.” GAVI, an organization heavily funded by Bill Gates, has conflated the need for digital health and immunization records with digital identity concepts on several occasions.
An electronic I.D. seems like a decent and convenient idea at first glance. After all, the “future” is frequently described as being digital, and many consider this transition to be imminent. Investing in the infrastructure to get everyone on Earth digitally authenticated seems like a noble humanitarian effort.
Digital ID is masked as a tool for convenience and safety, but it will become a mandatory part of daily life. All of these systems are being built with “interoperability” in mind, so they can be used for more than just identification. There are many implications of how this technology will shape our lives in the future but I will focus on two reasons why I think this technology is unethical and unconstitutional.
Leaving behind the most vulnerable:
There is an obvious digital divide in society. The most vulnerable members will be impacted most—those with lower incomes, the homeless, and the disabled. They are least likely to have the same digital access or even own a smartphone. How can we expect people who may not have the means to pay a monthly phone bill to utilize digital IDs? Those without smartphones to prove their identity will be left behind if businesses and the government make digital ID the standard. In India, millions of Indian children risk being excluded from school due to a lack of digital identity.
One of the end goals of having universal digital identification is to merge people into a cashless society. A cashless society is one where paper and coin currency are no longer used for financial transactions. This means no more being able to spend your money anonymously if you choose to. Every single transaction will have a footprint online.
Common sense tells us that this will impact poor people the most. They often do not have bank accounts because 1) they don’t have money to put into them and 2) they do not have permanent addresses to even apply for a bank account. We already saw how easy it was to ignore those who may not have banking access during the national cash shortage that saw stores propping up signs that they were not accepting cash. The push to normalize digital IDs over physical IDs will exacerbate the digital divide.
Mandatory digital surveillance and erosion of civil liberties
The precursor to digital ID, Real ID is laying the groundwork for using biometric facial recognition technology which allows the Department of Homeland Security and other actors to scan your face without consent as you are arriving and departing U.S. airports. This will undoubtedly lead to problems and have implications for our civil liberties. Regular everyday citizens that are not under any warrant or suspicion should not be monitored in this way.
The precedent to mandate that citizens go along with digital ID can be loosely interpreted as a violation of the Constitution. As the American Civil Liberties Union says in a report, “The United States has no constitutional authority to compel people to carry a phone, much less to install a specific app on their phone, but that doesn’t mean it won’t become a practical requirement. Nowhere is it written that a person has to own a credit card—yet it’s difficult to fully participate in modern life without one, and those who lack them suffer significant disadvantages in establishing credit, renting a car, buying things online, or even, increasingly, buying food. It may become much the same with mDLs (mobile drivers licenses).
People around the world have subconsciously adopted the idea of having to show your identification and health status on demand because they were primed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as a country, we need to critically examine the implications here. These digital IDs have received no real critical examination or scrutiny within the media. We have to take a detour to incorporate the critical human rights safeguards and common sense if we are to pursue implementing this. Digital IDs are already being rolled out in countries such as Australia, India, and countries in the European Union.
There are lessons to take from those countries, but we’re running out of time.
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