What the Covid crisis has to do with e-ID...

Digital identity is a technical solution designed to allow citizens to prove their identity. It consists of linking a unique identifier to a set of digitally stored characteristics (name, date of birth, gender), which in turn are linked to proofs of identity. The e-ID can be used to view certain documents, but also to access benefits and services offered by public authorities, banks and other companies.

The e-ID ecosystem, presented by PwC (Digital identity, 2019)

The companies and interest groups that want to enforce e-ID have not only been thinking theoretically and have been busy with this long before the Covid crisis.

The "Digital identity industry" has been active since the early 2010s and especially since 2014: This year, the World Bank launched the Identification for Development ID4D initiative. It is designed to help countries achieve Target 16.9 of the United Nations for sustainable development: "To provide all people with a legal identity, including birth registration, by 2030".

The idea of linking vaccination status and e-ID dates back to 2018. It was presented by the ID2020 Alliance. The concept was to use vaccination as an "entry point" for implementing an e-ID system by linking vaccination status to a biometric identification system. "Immunisation is a great opportunity to provide children with a secure digital identity from the beginning of their lives," praised Dakota Gruener of ID2020. In the meantime, the principle has been tested in the context of a Project in Bangladesh put into practice, where "fewer than 40% of children receive a birth certificate before the age of five", but the vaccination rate "for preventable diseases" is 97%.

ID2020 now manages the biometric registration and digital identification of infants there when they receive routine immunisations. In September 2019, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, expressed the wish that the programme would be expanded to all developing countries in collaboration with players such as Facebook and the payment company Mastercard.

If things go according to the plan of the digital identity industry, all of a person's existing data will be collected in the future and run together in the background: Travel history, vaccination status, bank account statement, credit status, etc. After the facial check, the barrier at the airport then opens - or maybe not... The topic of surveillance will certainly occupy us for a long time - regardless of Corona.

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