Digital IDs are essential requirements as we move into a digital world where we shop, access services and conduct financial transactions online. Governments seek to digitize citizens’ data in an effort to universalize government services, while industries such as banking and communications aim to create more seamless processes for their products and services. Nigeria launched a digital ID system in 2014, but as of 2019, only 19% of Nigerians had registered for the ID (Premium Times, 2019). This pales in comparison to a country like Estonia where 98% of the population have digital IDs.
Whilst Digital IDs can facilitate access to financial services, healthcare, buying a SIM card and voting, others have argued they pose one of the gravest risks to human rights of any technology that we have encountered and this might get worse in the future. A digital ‘YOU’ can be tracked and every action you take documented, paving the way for regimes of surveillance and control where the government knows every step you take. Moreover, digital IDs can facilitate an understanding of who you are by companies who want to exploit your basic nature for financial gain. There is also the issue of your data/details falling into the hands of an imposter.
Whilst digital IDs clearly have their advantages especially in areas like financial fraud detection or reducing electoral fraud, they also have their disadvantages. Digital IDs can be exploited if proper checks are not in place. Does the idea of a ‘digital YOU' scare you?