Digital identity and the role of paralegals

Around the world, many governments are rolling out new ID systems including systems based on digital identity and biometrics. What is the role of paralegals and the legal empowerment approach in influencing how these systems are established?

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the role of the paralegals will be to make sure they do more sensitization to the community on the importance of these documents and also encourage them to apply for the required documents and should also work closely with the community towards policy change.

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The need to highlight both the advantages and disadvantages that come with the system to the public is important.

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First the paralegals will educate members of the communities on the requirements of the applications of the said Ids

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Is Digital ID practiced in other countries? if Yes how effective is it and how was it implemented. @lauragoodwin @yussuf

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Interesting topic @lauragoodwin. I personally think that digital IDs is a good idea but which unfortunately comes with a number of risks including concerns over privacy of user information, exacerbating exclusion of minority communities, institutionalising discrimination, and risk of corruption and data integrity issues. Paralegals can create community awareness on the benefits of digital identity, whilst also working to come up with measures or contributng towards the mitigating of these problems. What do you think @mustafa_mahmoud @zena, @Lore, @Samba

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Digital identity, is the best mechanism for governments ending discrimination and exclusivity of citizenship issues identified, paralegals carries the biggest role in awareness creation, raising voices for change on the discriminatory laws towards digitization of citizenship documentation.

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Paralegals need to sensitize the communities they work with to apply for documents that will be required in application of the digital :id: if they don’t have the documents required

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@lauragoodwin. Apparently, paralegals should first understand what digital I.D’s system is all about so as to have knowledge on what to impart the Community for them to comprehend the same thing

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The roles of the paralegals is to do more sensitization on acquiring documents that are needed during registration on upcoming sytems .

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The work of the paralegal is essencial to better instruct the community, teaching the automation of processes and their importance, and thus leaving well structured this legal empowerment. In addition to transmitting the knowledge, it is necessary to update it, as technological advances increasingly relevant, transforming the community but without losing its essence.

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I would look at a paralegal program that is entrenched in a digital ID roll-out from the onset towards protecting minority, marginalized and at risk populations.

Before educating the community they would inform policy towards ensuring that protection through for example championing for legal reform because the laws are still a significant barrier and enabling environment for discrimination and marginalization. Digital ID can perpetuate this further through whole scale exclusion. There has to deliberately be space for paralegals and government to engage, so a priority would be advocacy and it should be targeted because we have known for a while that digital ID is becoming a reality and even in Kenya. So one thing that Paralegals could do is to through their day to day continue to provide data that informs policy improvement while administrators clamor for spaces to engage.

Pen-ultimately, community education and empowerment is a key component towards ensuring sustainability, ownership and advocacy against discrimination and marginalization.

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It is very crucial for paralegals to be part of the process, from sensitization stage and engage them in all areas. Digital identification requires a lot of care and precautious steps to ensure credibility. The community can develop a lot of resistence towards these checks and balances, engaging paralegals at the community level will create necessary balance between community members’ needs and policy formulation that ensures credibility.

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That’s a great question @kasida_abdul! Yes, digital ID systems are currently in use or planned in many countries and there is a lot we can learn from these experiences.

One particular example draws a lot of attention (and debate). The world’s largest biometric ID system is in India. It’s called Aadhaar. Over the past few years, over a billion Indians have used their biometrics like fingerprints and iris scans to enroll and receive a unique 12-digit Aadhaar number. People use that number to assert their identity for a range of actions - including opening a bank account, receiving government benefits like food rations, and accessing a range of other public services.

There are many different perspectives on Aadhaar. On the one hand, the government succeeded in enrolling the vast majority of Indians, which was no small task. On the other hand, there are differences by region - some states have nearly 100% of their population enrolled while others are still in the 10 to 20% range - as well as ongoing court cases due to concerns on privacy issues.

A new report called “State of Aadhaar” is aiming to ensure the discussions about the system are more data-driven. IDinsight, with support from Omidyar Network, compiled the report after conducting a survey in rural areas of several Indian states. A recent op-ed by the research team suggests it’s not possible to claim Aadhaar is “good” or “bad” - the article is a nice summary of some of the key findings of the longer report.

You might also want to check out the Identities Project, which contains a series of videos, articles, and essays on a range of topics related to identity technology.

There are also examples closer to Kenya. Both Rwanda and Uganda are working on digital ID initiatives and these are countries to watch for lessons as well!

@namati_citizenship

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Thank @lauragoodwin for the info. I agree there is a lot to learn from these experiences, but still the risks weigh much than the benefits of Digital IDs/Biometric.

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Kizungu nayo! Hadi Karibu I Wavinyaad!:joy:

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@lauragoodwin, @mustafa_mahmoud, and others on this thread - thought you might be interested in a new article published today from the Engine Room titled, “Digital ID: Why it Matters and What We’re Doing About It”. The article highlights potential risks involved in governments move towards new ID systems and ways these systems have been used in some countries to refuse citizenship rights for particular groups.

There are helpful links at the bottom of the article to other organizations working on these issues. If you haven’t already, it may be worth reaching out to the Engine Room, seems like there are lots of synergies between our work and their research priorities. :smile:

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Thanks for sharing this link. Let me go through it and will revert incase of any follow up on our side.

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A nice read @miaschmid. This particular phrase is a take home

“For digital identity to be empowering in certain contexts, the technological, legal and policy framework must be built on a foundation of user agency and choice, informed consent, recognition of multiple forms of identity, the space for anonymity, and respect for privacy.”

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