World Economic Forum Launches Shared Platform for Good Digital Identity

25 Sep 2018

Georg Schmitt, Head of Corporate Affairs, World Economic Forum, Tel.: +41 79 571 8287;

· Omidyar Network, World Bank, Sovrin Foundation and Evernym advance new digital identity initiatives on Platform for Good Digital Identity

· Partners call for “good ID” that is inclusive, trustworthy, safe and sustainable

· Omidyar Network is committing a three-year grant for the platform

· New white paper Identity in a Digital World published to coincide with launch

· The initiative is part of the 100 coalitions accelerating sustainable development

· Watch and follow the meeting at and join the conversation at #wefimpact

New York, 25 September 2018 – The World Economic Forum launched a shared Platform for Good Digital Identity today to bring together existing and new digital identity solutions that are inclusive, trustworthy, safe and sustainable. The launch of the platform – together with the publication of a white paper, Identity in a Digital World – took place at the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2018 in New York. The Omidyar Network committed a three-year grant to support the platform.

Verifying the identity of people, devices and entities enables interactions in a digital world. And when privacy, security and user control are built in, digital identity unlocks transformative opportunities such as access to basic services and more customized digital experiences, enhanced health and well-being, improved traceability in supply chains, citizen safety and global biodiversity protection.

Two realities limit this potential. Firstly, approximately 3.8 billion people – or half the world’s population – are still not connected to the internet and its opportunities. The World Bank estimates that more than 1.1 billion people do not have any legally recognized form of identity. The United Nations has acknowledged this gap by including it in Sustainable Development Goal 16 on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”.

Secondly, individuals, businesses and governments alike are still learning what “identity in a digital world” means, how to design “good IDs” to empower people and how to safeguard them from the risks of poorly designed identities. Identity thefts and data breaches are on the rise, and individuals are increasingly losing control over how their identity data is used or abused. There is significant room to understand what “good” identity means, and to drive its adoption across the world.

“The World Economic Forum is committed to solving the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution through public-private collaboration. While many different models and approaches to digital identity exist, only a broad coalition, of diverse and committed actors, will be able to advance digital identity that is inclusive, trustworthy, safe and sustainable,” said Derek O’Halloran, Head, Future of Digital Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum.

Identity systems today vary in terms of their policies and practices – from technology choices to levels of security and privacy – and often do not communicate with each other, making it cumbersome for users and leaving them vulnerable to risks. Shared understanding and collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society can address some of these challenges and advance appropriate innovations and policies.

“The diverse perspectives and expertise of this growing community – across industry, government and civil society – have already started to drive meaningful progress toward a shared understanding and practice of good ID. By establishing a dedicated three-year programme, we believe the Forum will be even better positioned to facilitate meaningful partnerships, learning and collaboration,” said C. V. Madhukar, global Digital Identity lead at Omidyar Network.

The first wave of initiatives to be announced via the Platform for Good Digital Identity includes the following:

· Omidyar Network announced a series of upcoming Good ID dialogues to encourage and enable digital identity stakeholders to make the economic, moral, technological and regulatory decisions that support individual empowerment.

· The World Bank Group announced Mission Billion, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network and Australian Aid. The inaugural edition calls for ideas and prototypes to improve privacy by design and data protection in identity systems, and to give users more control of their data.

· Evernym and Sovrin Foundation launched the Identity for Good Initiative, opening up Evernym’s Accelerator Programme for non-profit organizations. Participants can access tools, technologies and expertise in decentralized identity models to advance their missions.

“Achieving the SDG target 16.9 on legal identity for all, in a responsible manner, requires new ideas to embed privacy by design into ID systems and empowering people with control over their data. Mission Billion will complement our work in developing countries to support inclusive and trusted ID systems and comprehensive legal frameworks for data protection,” said Vyjayanti Desai, Identification for Development (ID4D) Program Manager, World Bank Group.

“Our Identity for Good initiative solves budget limitations by waiving the membership, bootstraps access to the technology, and allows participating NPOs to innovate just as commercial enterprises do” said Timothy Ruff, CEO, Evernym

A white paper, Identity in a Digital World, informed by the learnings of various stakeholders, was published at the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2018 in New York. It takes stock of where we are in the identity landscape, explores what “good” looks like, and identifies an initial set of priorities for this community to make progress on in the coming years.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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