What is Digital ID?
Digital ID is a system of verifying a person’s identity through digital means instead of a physical ID card. In a digital ID scheme, a digital ID card, identifying information or even biometric data can been referenced against a digital ID database to validate a person’s identity.
With digital ID, it is possible for both government and private entities to verify a persons identity. With biometrics, it is even possible for identity verification without the person’s knowledge. This technology allows for tracking of a person’s location, movement, behaviors, friends, family, purchases and more. This data can be used for everything from ad targeting to law enforcement.
Digital ID and CBDC
Digital ID is a key component of central bank digital currencies. For digital bank currencies to work effectively as a control mechanism, they have to be associated with an identity to allow for tracking and targeting of individual account holders. This make digital ID a prerequisite of state-sponsored digital payment systems. With this combination government can stop political opponents and dissidents from being able to buy guns, ammo or even food if the government decides they are a threat.
Right-Wing Internet ID Laws
Right-wing states are leading the way on digital ID systems. Many have passed laws requiring online age-identification for minors under the guise of preventing minors from accessing porn and social media platforms. This is a backdoor to digital ID, as age verification requires some type of digital database of identifications to validate against, which can be accessed by private businesses. So far laws have been passed in Louisiana, Utah, Arkansas and Mississippi; and many other states currently have legislation under consideration.
Digital ID has been gradually rolling out globally. Most nations now have some form of digital ID. Many are associated with biometric data like fingerprints, iris scans or face scans. The United States has been one of the final holdouts. Individual states have been working with private companies like Google and Apple to launch digital driver’s licenses. So far Arizona, Colorado and Maryland are participating.
States and popular participation could prove to be a very effective obstacle to widespread implementation of digital ID. In 2005 the federal government passed the Real ID standards which require every state to issue federally compliant identification cards. This process was supposed to be completed in 2008, but after push back from states, and many people simply failing to get the new IDs, enforcement by the TSA has been repeatedly delayed into 2023. So while it is technically feasible for widespread digital ID to be implemented within a few years, if public resistance continues, efforts of creating any type of unified system will fail.
Technical challenges may also hinder the roll-out of digital ID. First, every state in hte US has it’s own identification systems and standards. This makes the development of a unified system that is compatible with all states and can be used in concert with a CBDC, quite a challenge. Additionally, incorporating biometric data is a logitics, security and technical challenges. How and when will biometric data be collected? Where will the data be stored? How will the public react to inevitable breaches and misuse? How will these systems be realiable enough to work for payment verification, travel and other use cases when the government’s attempts at similar projects (healthcare.gov) have failed miserably? If the government can succeed in implementing some kind of coherent federal digital ID scheme, it will be mired in failures and issues.