As technology – from social media to biometrics – spreads around the world, developing nations are embracing new innovations in citizen identification to improve access to health and education, security and to root out corruption.
Seraphine recently received a national ID card issued by her country, Rwanda. It includes her photo and some basic details: her name, gender, birthdate, place of issue and a copy of her signature along with a 16digit number. The card – or more importantly, its number – is how she will identify herself and will be officially recognized from now on. In a country where memories of ethnic conflict are still fresh, it’s an attempt to move beyond the past into a new digital future.
Around the world, governments and citizens are increasing their digital interaction. A unique digital ID is the first step to receiving benefits and paying taxes but it also raises some important questions: Is this new digital governance empowering? Does it reduce corruption and misuse of public resources? Are we moving toward a better world where governments are efficient and accountable? These questions are fundamental to the changes underway as a result of the rapid spread of digital technologies, mobile communications and social media.