Implications of New Technology for Civil Registration and Identification: Research and Policy

Johannesburg, 14—16 February 2017

FutureID Papers : The Johannesburg Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identification

Amiya Bhatia and Jacqueline Bhabha -- Is birth registration being left behind? A comparative analysis of socioeconomic inequalities in birth registration and the role of biometric identification in South Asia

Abstract As biometric identification expands in South Asia, many countries continue to have weak birth registration systems. This paper examines the connections between birth registration and biometric identification in South Asian countries. Using data from the most recent Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) we assess the state of birth registration and of birth certificates - which serve as evidentiary proof of registration - in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Maldives, and Bhutan. By quantifying inequalities in birth registration in children under five by wealth quintile, sex of the child and urban/rural location in each country, we show the extent to which birth registration remains unequal. We then examine the goals, policies and design of biometric identification in each country to assess whether the identification system supports or improves CRVS, whether biometric identification is expanding as a substitute for CRVS system, or whether these systems are addressing different goals entirely. We ask whether birth registration is being left behind in the pursuit of biometric identification, and argue that rural residence and poverty have shaped which children are uncounted and unregistered, and may also shape the expansion of biometric identification. We connect these findings to the SDGs which aim to improve registration and reduce inequality to suggest that biometric systems should not obviate the need to strengthen birth registration systems. The equity analyses we present reveal who is included in CRVS systems, and we suggest that disaggregated data on birth registration must be monitored to inform efforts to improve CRVS systems, and collected to monitor efforts to implement biometric registration. For example, MICS, DHS and other large scale surveys which allow birth registration to be monitored should also include a wider range of questions on legal identity to capture the spectrum of identification modalities which grant legal identity, so that equity in access can continue to be monitored. Acknowledgements: We thanks colleagues at the International Center for Equity in Health for their contribution to data preparation and data analysis. Keywords CRVS, birth registration, inequality, South Asia, Aadhaar, NADRA, SDGs, biometric identification Panel 3

Keith Breckenridge -- Historical foundations and trajectories of identification and registration

Abstract A review of the histories of identification, registration and subversion on the African continent and the Indian subcontinent

Keywords Aadhaar, Biometrics, India Panel 2

Bidisha Chaudhuri -- Renegotiating citizenship through digital biometric identification

Abstract Citizenship in the post-Cold War era became entangled with democracy-promotion, migration, and governance reform amongst other priorities. Since 9/11, citizenship was further tied to concerns about national and social security. Given the many domains it touches upon, the contemporary notion of citizenship is complex and can be studied in myriad ways. In this paper, I study citizenship through its linkages to proliferating digital biometric ID systems. The case I draw on to understand this linkages is the Aadhaar project in India, among the most ambitious biometric ID projects in the world (Breckenridge 2014). Although biometric identification is not new, its coupling with information technology creates novel ways of meditating identity by rendering the body as an ultimate document for identification (Ploeg 2003), thus enabling the state to accurately trace and monitor the “free” physical and material movement of citizens (Brown 2010; Jacobsen 2015). This suggests processes of renegotiation of state- citizen relationships and the paper focuses on how these processes unfold. Drawing on Foucault’s concept of governmentality and bio politics, this paper explores: firstly, at a conceptual level, how digital biometric ID systems, such as Aadhaar, institutionalize a particular type of bio politics that strengthens state control over citizens notwithstanding the rhetoric of citizen empowerment and, secondly, in practice, how people on the social margins who are not legible to the state (Scott 1998), risk losing their claims to citizenship. The overall aim of the paper is to understand the implications of biometric government for the notion of citizenship in neoliberal times.

Keywords Aadhaar, Biometrics, India Panel 5

Mark Collinson et al -- Completeness of birth and death registration in a rural area of South Africa: the Agincourt health and demographic surveillance, 1992-2014

Abstract "Background: Completeness of vital registration remains very low in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in rural areas. Objectives: To investigate trends and factors in completeness of birth and death registration in Agincourt, a rural area of South Africa covering a population of about 110,000 persons, under demographic surveillance since 1992. The population belongs to the Shangaan ethnic group and hosts a sizeable community of Mozambican refugees. Design: Statistical analysis of birth and death registration over time in a 22-year perspective (19922014). Over this period, major efforts were made by the government of South Africa to improve vital registration. Factors associated with completeness of registration were investigated using univariate and multivariate analysis. Results: Birth registration was very incomplete at onset (7.8% in 1992) and reached high values at end point (90.5% in 2014). Likewise, death registration was low at onset (51.4% in 1992), also reaching high values at end point (97.1% in 2014). For births, the main factors were mother’s age (much lower completeness among births to adolescent mothers), refugee status, and household wealth. For deaths, the major factors were age at death (lower completeness among under-five children), refugee status, and household wealth. Completeness increased for all demographic and socioeconomic categories studied and is likely to approach 100% in the future if trends continue at this speed. Conclusion: Reaching high values in the completeness of birth and death registration was achieved by excellent organization of the civil registration and vital statistics, a variety of financial incentives, strong involvement of health personnel, and wide-scale information and advocacy campaigns by the South African government.

Keywords CRVS, South Africa, Agincourt, Public Health Panel 3

Shaun Conway -- Self-Sovereign Digital Identity

Abstract Recent technological advances have created a unique opportunity to redefine identity for the digital world. Self-sovereign Identity is emerging as a new ideal. This uses verifiable personal data as the basis for digital identification, whilst adhering to fundamental principles such as user control, interoperability, portability, consent to use, persistence, privacy and protection. It introduces powerful new capabilities that will be essential for growing the distributed, networked digital economy.

Keywords Panel 7

Gabriel Davel -- Differences in the structure of credit information sharing and the approach to the regulation of credit bureaus in different countries and the implications for data privacy, the risks to data security and the evolution of credit information analytics

Abstract Correlating a person’s unique patterns of data (‘digital fingerprints’) from a variety of sources provides an advanced form of biometrics that should outperform physical measures of identification. Advanced computation, machine-learning and AI will further increase the degree of precision and assurance of identity claims, using mathematical proofs. This makes it possible to provide dynamic, highly contextual identity information for a versatile range of applications, in both the physical and online world.

Keywords Credit Histories, Financial data Panel 6

Marielle Debos -- What election technologies do when they do not prevent rigging: Insights from Chad

Abstract International donors and electoral advisors seem more and more sceptical about the use of costly election technologies in countries with no centralized population register. Such technological solutions are, however, still implemented in many countries. Based on fieldwork conducted in Chad before, during and after the 2016 presidential election, this presentation explains why biometric voter registration did not prevent rigging and shows that there is no good technological response to inherently political problems. But while biometric voter registration did not increase the overall transparency of elections, it raised citizens’ expectations, became the most debated issue during the campaign and after the election, and in the end modified the routines of the political game. Keywords Biometric voter registration, politics, Chad Panel 4

Tom Fisher and Gus Hosein -- Legal Identity in the future: the challenges of data

Abstract Technological change means that the way we have to think about identity and identification is changing. There are new opportunities of data collection about people’s lives: social media, the Internet of Things, and satellite imagery. There are new techniques to analyse this data, from “big data” through to artificial intelligence. This presents new challenges, and power dynamics, as companies learn more and more about people and their lives. Understanding this changing dynamic is essential for us to understand legal identity, particularly when linked to biometrics. These schemes link together a broad variety of databases and information, and that is growing. This is also extending to the private sector, for example with the IndiaStack API that allows private organisations access to Aadhaar. These developments in the information that governments and companies know about individuals marks a shift that has an impact not only on privacy, but also the power of institutions and how they impact upon the autonomy and dignity of the individual.

Keywords Identity; big data; machine learning; privacy Panel 6

Alan Gelb -- Recent Developments in ID for Development

Abstract A review of contemporary developments in the field of Identification for Development Keywords ID4D Panel 1

Eddy Higgs -- How do we understand ‘the body’ in the history of biometric identification?

Abstract The concept of the body held by contemporary biometricians seems quite simple – it is a physical object that either has a certain discrete extension in space, or that presents patterns, that are stable over time. However, this way of looking at the body is historically specific. In the past the physical body could be seen as merely the outward expression of non-material entities or genealogies, and could even be distributed spatially across differing objects. I’ll explain what I mean by this in due course. The aim of the present paper is: 1) to show how modern biometrics emerged from, but also disrupted, these older understandings of the body, and 2) to raise the possibility that support by governments and the public for biometrics may have more in common with these older conceptions than merely reflecting support for the application of an objective technology.

Keywords Biometrics, Body, Panel 2

Wendy Hunter -- The Promise and Limits of International Advocacy for the Effectively Stateless: The Case of Dominicans of Haitian Descent in Broader Context

Abstract Cases of total legal statelessness (e.g. the Rohingya), the withdrawal of citizenship (e.g. Germany from the 1933-45), and of migrants who lack citizenship in countries where they reside (e.g. Mexicans in detention centers in the United States who are threatened with deportation) are the makings of front page news and advocacy. This paper examines the potential and limits of international attention and advocacy for people who are effectively stateless, that is, people who are in principle citizens of countries in which they reside but lack the registration and documents to prove so and hence are deprived of essential services and rights. Whether their governments exclude them through commission or omission, the effectively stateless are generally the subject of less outcry even though their numbers reach into the millions. Focusing on the shifting status of Haitians in the Dominican Republic over time, this paper examines the relative intensity of media scrutiny and human rights advocacy for different categories of stateless people. A central dilemma it points to concerns the inverse relationship between the (degree of) denial of citizenship and the scrutiny and criticism the case tends to receive. One unfortunate consequence of this pattern is that millions of people who are effectively stateless languish on the margins in countries that are arguably best positioned and most likely to concede citizenship (beginning with birth registration) through some combination of outside assistance and pressure. The paper ends by asking what can be done to improve this situation. Keywords Dominican Republic, Haiti, citizenship, birth registration, international advocacy Panel 3

Jonathan Klaaren -- Legal Frontiers of Legal Identity in Africa

Abstract I wish to compare the degree to which there is a frontier pushing aspect to several of the boundaries currently being maintained or constructed in at least two African countries, South Africa and Kenya. In other words, I wish to ask what are the most innovative/fluid legal boundaries relative to the future of legal identity through a comparison of at least these two countries.

Keywords privacy, banking and finance, regulation Panel 4

Bronwen Manby -- The impact of new biometric identification systems in Africa on nationality and statelessness: an instrument of inclusion or exclusion?

Abstract Biometric identification systems are spreading rapidly throughout Africa. Countries that have not previously had them are introducing national identity cards, and existing ID cards are being converted to biometric technology. The introduction of new national identity systems is a notorious point for the creation – or uncovering – of stateless populations. At the same time, there is increasing advocacy for and recognition of the documentation of legal identity – of which nationality is one component – as foundational for other rights. Yet question of defining who is a national is rarely even discussed, still less seen as problematic, in the presentations about legal identity and the infrastructure to ensure documentation. This paper presents case studies from East and West Africa to illustrate the problems in practice. The introduction of new “foundational” national identification systems for adults, without first addressing the legal framework for nationality, risks making the problem of lack of legal identity worse rather than better.

Keywords statelessness nationality citizenship biometrics legalidentity SDG16.9 Panel 4

Ursula Rao -- Writing, typing and scanning. Distributive justice and the politics of visibility in the era of biometric governance

Abstract This paper focuses on the social struggles accompanying shifts in management system from paper based record keeping to biometrically enabled e-governance and the impact of different media for the manufacture of identity and transparency. Using the public distribution system in India as a case study, I will explore the consequence of adopting biometric technology for food security and people’s perception of self in systems of governance. Customers in the food distribution system are known through at least for different registers. They are known as abstract category of people living below the poverty line, as certified individuals holding identification (ration) cards, as known individuals in a neighbourhood and as bodies available for biometric identification. Ideally these representations should be congruent. Yet, each representation has its own reality concomitant with the media through which it comes into being. Their “seamful” (Vertesi) integration creates a system of governance praised as efficient and transparent. It has the remarkable ability to hide not only distributive injustice but also the conditions of its own manufacture. In this scenario shop keepers and users mobilise writing as a medium speaking historical truth to expose the blind spot of digital statistics.

Keywords biometric governance, distributive justice, India, media and identity Panel 5

Jaap van der Straaten and Sanjay Dharwadker -- Personal identifiers for identity management

Abstract  Numbering of individuals has been an integral part of identity record-keeping even in the older paper-based systems, but with the advent of the digital age the practice has taken on greater significance. While assigning a unique personal identifier has the advantage of cross- and inter-sectoral usage, the practice also raises concerns with regards to security, privacy, and human rights. First-time introduction of national identity cards and the upgrade of existing national ID systems covering together virtually all countries have given rise to the question how to optimally design a personal numbering system. Numbering systems currently in use show a great variety across countries. Some have adopted a single, unique primary number for each citizen. In other countries individuals lack such a foundational numbering system and multiple personal numbers/identifiers are used in parallel, e.g. voter ID, tax number and a driving license as identifier. Often personal identification numbers have been structured to include information on sex, civil status, race, date or year of birth and address. Some of these elements of a numbering system may be susceptible to change over shorter or longer periods. For example, the South African number had a digit for race that is now replaced with a zero. A numbering system may allow intended or unintended profiling or may be more prone to guessing and identity theft. Changing the numbering system on a nation-wide basis can be expensive (e.g. South Korea). Location-specific numbers increase the need for replacement as populations have become more mobile, and low birth registration rates may render many without a date of birth. Instead of personal identity numbers that provide such information assigning a random number (with check digit, and perhaps a provision for versions) has emerged as an alternative option. Assigning random numbers requires a (secret) method of drawing random numbers centrally (cf. UIDAI, India). Are these the only alternatives for assigning numbers to individuals in an identity system, or can there be others? Among all these, is there a best option? This paper attempts to lay out the arguments and also collate references on this relatively new, important and multi-disciplinary topic.

Keywords personal identification number, national ID, civil registration, national identity management, security, privacy, digitisation, legal identity Panel 7

Edgar Whitley -- Towards a model for digital identity maturity

Abstract Although the term “digital identity” is increasingly used in policy circles, there remains considerable ambiguity about what, precisely, a digital identity is and how its effectiveness might be measured. By focusing on the technology–in–practice rather than the technological artefact (Orlikowski 2000) this paper develops a set of criteria that can be used to evaluate the maturity of a national digital identity system. Such criteria include key elements of the trust frameworks (Nyst et al. 2016) that support digital identity systems. Focusing on technologies–in–practice explicitly allows for differentiation between countries where the same technological artefact (e.g. a chip based identity card) exists but usage opportunities vary. References: Nyst, C., Pannifer, S., Whitley, E. A., and Makin, P. (2016). Digital Identity: Issue analysis, No. PRJ.1578, Consult Hyperion for Omidyar Network (available at and Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using Technology and Constituting Structures: A Practice Lens for Studying Technology in organizations, Organizational Science 11(4), 404–428.

Keywords Digital identity; Maturity Panel 7