Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has just invested millions of dollars in a new “global digital ID system” that seeks to replace all forms of traditional government-issued identification around the world.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funneled $10 million to the Modular Open-Source Identification Platform (MOSIP) and pledged to ensure that every member of the public around the world can “prove their identity.”
The huge investment from Gates will guarantee that MOSIP can meet its goal of creating a universal digital identification system.
The foundation, guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, has actively promoted the initiative of MOSIP to establish a national ID system. The foundation claims that, with 850 million people deprived of government services due to the lack of proof of identity, MOSIP’s initiative is a way to stimulate economic growth and advance the creation of digital public infrastructures.
MOSIP, launched in 2018, aims to address these concerns through accessibility and adaptability. Meaning to say, the digital ID system would be customized per country, depending on the needs of the people and the economy.
Eleven countries have led the way in the adoption of MOSIP, including Ethiopia, Morocco, and the Philippines, leading to the rapid distribution of over 90 million digital IDs.
This has brought to light the vast amount of personal data being collected by governments and the potential risks associated with data breaches or misuse.
Privacy experts argue that the implementation of such a system could have serious implications for personal privacy.
The adoption of this system without privacy safety can lead to potential misuse, surveillance and unwarranted data access given that personal data has become increasingly valuable these days.
“While the Gates Foundation views digital ID systems as integral to fostering digital public infrastructure that can, in theory, stimulate economic growth, the risks to personal privacy cannot be ignored,” warns Reclaim The Net, a digital rights advocacy group.
The MOSIP initiative is patterned after the controversial Aadhaar-enabled Payments System (AePS), the digital identification system of India. Just like MOSIP and the Bill Gates Foundation, this advanced development in India faces multiple privacy and security concerns.
First, renowned security expert Bruce Schneier warned that no matter how AePS has stringent encryption standards and restricted access, central databases like the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) are not immune to hacking. In short, the real threat lies in the potential breach of the systems that access the data.
Second, the reproduction of fingerprints makes one prone to identity and banking fraud despite the fact that AePS offers convenience to the public. Based on the point of view of Reetika Khera, an opinion writer for The Wire, making personal information accessible to unauthorized entities causes discomfort.
Next, the uniqueness of AePS lies in the centralization of biometric and demographic information which is then seeded into different public and private databases.
This integration, according to privacy experts, robs people of control over their data and facilitates government profiling due to the collection of biometric data.
Furthermore, concerns arise about the creation of an “ecosystem” in which the AePS number becomes a tool for surveillance. Critics argue that this electronic leash can be used to control and monitor citizens’ activities across different domains of life.
Lastly, privacy experts object to the vision that the personal data economy could monetize people’s personal information from credit rating improvements to epidemiological studies. Instead, they argue that it prioritizes data mining over digital literacy and safeguards.
These privacy concerns mirror the possible consequences of the initiative of MOSP.
Privacy experts suggest that the system might be used to create a social credit score and central bank digital currency, which could potentially grant the ruling class excessive control over the slave states.
“This entire system is going to be tied to a social credit score and a central bank digital currency that the rulers will have full control over,” stated Mac Slavo, a staff writer for SHTF Plan.