The introduction or standardisation of the so-called digital identity for every person on earth by 2030 is an express goal of the United Nations. The UN officially started this project in 2016 under the project name ID2020. The digital identity promises many benefits, but it actually entails many dangers, chief of which is the possibility that it could enable the establishment of a total surveillance state.
What is the digital identity?
In a 2016 presentation, the World Economic Forum defined the term “identity” in the following way:
“Identity […] is a collection of individual attributes that describe an entity and determine the transactions in which that entity can participate.”
In other words, identity as defined by the World Economic Forum is a collection of attributes or characteristics that describes a person and that determines what transactions that person can carry out. A digital identity would mean storing these characteristics in a central digital system from where they could be called up at any time at the push of a button. To illustrate this, relatively harmless examples are given by the World Economic Forum, such as that a person may only buy a bottle of wine (transaction: “purchase an alcoholic beverage”) from the age of 18 (attribute: “age”). But a lot more data can be imported into a digital identity system, such as personal online search history, interactions in social media, personal purchasing behaviour, medical data (e. g. vaccination status) or financial status and creditworthiness. The information collected can be used to create a complete profile of an individual, including political views and beliefs. The digital identity potentially includes much more than a physical proof of identity and is intended to create a kind of transparent human being.
In connection with the concept of digital identity, a philosophical and theological examination of the concept of identity as such appears necessary. The World Economic Forum’s understanding of identity is reductionist and materialistic. According to its definition, human identity is merely a collection of attributes such as age, gender, health status or political affiliation. In truth, however, human identity, that which defines human beings, is much broader and deeper. Man is made in the image of God, as a unity of body, soul and spirit. He is a child of his parents on a natural level and part of a family, a lineage and a people. Through baptism, he becomes part of the mystical body of Christ. Having an immortal soul and free will, he is much more than a mere collection of qualities and traits. These profound human truths are being ignored or denied by the actors driving the adoption of a digital identity. People’s understanding of their own identity is thus distorted by the term ‘digital identity’. This circumstance poses a danger per se, since it suggests to people that their identity, their entire being, could be represented digitally in a cloud or on a server.
What are the dangers associated with a digital identity?
The dangers of linking and centralising all personal data in digital form should not be underestimated. The World Economic Forum believes that our digital identity will determine which products, services and information we will and will not have access to.
The rollout of the “green passport” in many countries around the world or the freezing of bank accounts as part of the trucker protests in Canada are frightening examples of excessive state control. These recent events show that where someone has the “wrong” health status or provides financial support to an organisation that is not politically acceptable, a government agency can ban that person from travel or have their bank account frozen. Digital identity allows government agencies to retrieve all relevant data about an individual and impose such sanctions at the push of a button. For this purpose, the proposed European asset register, in which the entire assets of every EU citizen could be recorded, could be linked to the digital identity in the future. Once the digital identity has been introduced across the board, a totalitarian social credit system modelled on China will become a perfectly realistic scenario.
Who is driving the digital identity agenda and why?
On a global scale, the two organisations already mentioned, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, are the key players in the efforts to introduce digital identity. The official justification for the introduction of a digital identity is that there are over a billion people worldwide who are not able to identify themselves and therefore allegedly have no access to important institutions, products and services. As part of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, everyone should have legal proof of identity by 2030. In addition, a digital identity would simplify many everyday processes and provide protection against identity theft and lost documents. However, these justifications are no more than pretexts, because the lack of proof of identity, which primarily affects people in the third world, does not justify the introduction of a global digital identity. Apart from that, a physical proof of identity would be perfectly sufficient to prove one’s own identity. The actual aim of this agenda is to facilitate surveillance, to register everyone digitally and thus to be able to control them.
The partners of UN Project ID2020 include Microsoft, Gavi (The Vaccine Alliance), the Rockefeller Foundation, Facebook and Mastercard. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also involved, at least indirectly, through its participation in the vaccine alliance Gavi. In other words, it is, to a certain extent, the same group of organisations that drove the restrictions on freedom in the context of the Corona crisis and co-financed the global vaccination campaign that are also financing and driving the introduction of a digital identity.
The European Union is using the Corona crisis as an excuse to justify the rapid implementation of the digital identity. The European Commission has issued the following statement regarding this point:
“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the need for effective and user-friendly digital services across the EU. There is no time to lose. It is essential that Member States start working with the Commission and the private sector immediately to prepare the implementation of the European Digital Identity framework.”
Critics of the Corona measures should therefore also view the introduction of a digital identity with extreme scepticism.
At what stage of the introduction process are we now?
The European Union created the legal framework for the introduction of a European digital identity back in 2014 by enacting the eIDAS Regulation. The European Commission is in the process of evaluating this regulation with the aim of introducing a European digital identity. According to an official recommendation by the EU Commission, the member states should reach agreement by 30 September 2022 on the instruments for implementing a European digital identity.
In Ukraine, the digital identity system is already well advanced. At the beginning of 2020, the state introduced an app called “DiiA”, which is now used for numerous applications and verifications. For example, the driver’s license and the Covid vaccination passport are recorded in the app. It is used to set up companies and apply for social benefits from the state. The word DiiA is an acronym for “the state and I” in Ukrainian. It therefore represents a digital connection between citizen and the state. With the help of DiiA, for example, it would be very easy to link the payment of social benefits to a person’s vaccination status. Such a model was previously only known in the Chinese social credit system. In 2020, the DiiA City project was announced – a model of a digital city offering tax breaks to companies that establish a virtual location there.
In Austria, the ID Austria project is in the pilot phase, which is expected to be completed in mid-2022. From then on, anyone applying for an Austrian travel document will automatically receive an ID Austria, unless they expressly reject it. The previous digital identification options (“Bürgerkarte” and “Handy Signatur”) will then also be replaced by the ID Austria and thus standardised. The vision of ID Austria seems to be a model based on the Ukrainian app DiiA. In other words: the implementation of a uniform and comprehensive digital identity is already in full swing at European and national level.
The digital identity is always presented by the international organisations (UNO, WEF, EU) that promote it as a great service with many advantages. However, a digital centralisation of all our data harbours the risk of total surveillance and control by state and supranational organisations. It is plausible to assume that in the future, many transactions will only be accessible to those with a digital ID, which will result in (indirect) pressure on people to use it. Digital identity is central to the Great Reset agenda, a vision of the world where people become digital slaves to just a few powerful organisations. The implementation of this agenda should be fought at all levels.