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Building Digital Identities

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The provision of legal identity for all is increasingly viewed as a key mechanism for driving development goals. Behavioural attributes produced through digital interactions may have significant potential for enabling access to a legal identity for all, however the social, legal, and technical affordances and implications remain under-explored.

I was commissioned by University of Exeter to help convene and report on an expert witness workshop. The overarching aim of the workshop was to inform a scoping study that would identify the legal, social and technical implications of approaches to developing digital attributes that can be used to build digital identities.

The subsequent report built on contributions from leading researchers to provide a unique and expansive view to the problem area and unpack the role of behavioural attributes within the existing legal, social and technical landscape. We conclude that behavioural attributes produced through digital interactions may have significant potential for enabling access to a legal identity for all; however, the social, legal, and technical affordances and implications remain under-explored.

The report was cited in an influential piece of work by the International Committee of the Red Cross (the handbook on data protection in the humanitarian action – 2nd edition launched in 2020).

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