As more people, devices and associated personal data get online, there is growing focus on a foundational element of this new digital environment – our identities. The ability to prove we are who we say we are will increasingly determine our opportunities to establish trust with each other and to carry out meaningful interactions in a digital economy.
All over the world, a growing number of organizations – from the public and private sectors – are advancing systems that establish and verify digital identities for people, devices and other entities. This community is expanding in scope, growing beyond traditional identity practitioners to include a broader set of actors exploring the promises and perils of digital identities – from domains such as healthcare, financial services, humanitarian responses and more.
Yet we are still learning what “identity in a digital world” means. We are also still evolving policies and practices on how best to collect, process or use identity-related data in ways that empower individuals without infringing on their freedoms or causing them harm. There is significant room to improve how identity data is handled online, and how much control individuals have in the process.
At the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos, a diverse group of public and private stakeholders committed to shared cooperation on advancing good, user-centric digital identities. Since then, a broader group of stakeholders has joined this conversation: experts, policy-makers, business executives, practitioners, rights advocates, humanitarian organizations and civil society.