Research sprint examines challenges of navigating digital identity amid crises
GLOBAL COHORT OF EARLY-CAREER SCHOLARS AND PRACTITIONERS EXPLORES THE ETHICAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS CONSIDERATIONS OF DIGITAL IDENTITY IN TIMES OF CRISIS
The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, in collaboration with metaLAB (at) Harvard, the Edgelands Institute, and AccessNow, is welcoming 34 early-career scholars and practitioners working in 16 countries who will participate in a ten-week research sprint exploring the ethical, human rights, and societal impacts of digital identity in times of crisis.
Digital identity – or the ability for people to prove who they are and, in turn, to allow sociotechnical systems to identify them – is a double-sided coin. It can enable participation by allowing people to receive social benefits from state and civic organizations, engage in economic opportunities such as work and training programs, vote, and access other services. But it can also be used to control, exclude, and target people by removing their social benefits and limiting their rights..
The last three years have seen calamities accelerate – a pandemic, international conflicts, rising authoritarianism, and climate-driven crises – such that the need for safety, security, and communication is greater than ever before. These calamities are likely to continue, and in the maelstrom of crisis, even those decision-makers with the best intentions will make choices rapidly within a limited set of options and under conflicting pressures. Some decision-makers may not sufficiently consider the privacy and security of people’s digital identity. Others may be less concerned with the broader social good, using access to others’ digital identities to serve themselves.
The “Digital Identity in Times of Crisis: Designing for Better Futures” research sprint will challenge participants to evaluate how digital identity systems can best serve communities in times of crisis, how to guard against harms arising either from well-intended plans gone awry or from the misuse of power, and how to envision a future in which people's digital identities are respected and supported. The participants, who bring a range of backgrounds and areas of expertise to the discussion, will then work with practitioners to create one of three outputs: data visualizations that inform how people’s digital identity is captured or used, pieces of speculative fiction that envision better engagements with digital identity in the future, or policy recommendations for the design of sociotechnical systems that respond nimbly to crisis while treating people’s digital identities with respect and responsibility.
“Digital Identity in Times of Crisis: Designing for Better Futures” is the latest sprint in the BKC Research Sprints program. The program enables the rapid development of new research ideas and policy ideation through a community of burgeoning experts committed to collaboratively tackling difficult tech policy problems.
Abbas Bagwala India Independent Researcher
Anh Le United States The New School
Bhumika Billa India/United Kingdom Faculty of Law and Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge
Cesar Augusto Fontanillo Lopez Spain/Belgium Center for IT and IP Law, KU Leuven
Charlie Smith United Kingdom Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Chelsea Butkowski United States Center on Digital Culture & Society, University of Pennsylvania
Ongere Churchill Kenya Hivos/United States International University - Africa
Elena Casale United Kingdom Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Eslin Özlem Turkey Istanbul Bilgi University
Gabriel Fonlladosa France National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT)
Ibrahim Sabra Egypt The British University in Egypt/Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Jack Smye Canada Trent University
Janaina Costa Brazil Institute for Technology & Society (ITS)
Jennafer Roberts United States/Cambodia Accel AI Institute
Joseph Brandifino United States Truman National Security Project/Harvard Kennedy School
Jyotsna Iyer India/United Kingdom University College London
Lilian Olivia Orero Kenya Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)
Mardiya Siba Yahaya Ghana Pollicy/Team CommUnity
María Cristina Timón López Spain University of Murcia/ Explicit Selection/ External consultant (European Commission)
Maria Luciano Brazil Independent Researcher
Mariana Rozo Paz Colombia Datasphere Initiative, Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network/ Universidad de los Andes
Max Neu Germany Ernst Abbe Hochschule Jena | Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin e.V.
Nicholas Gates United States/United Kingdom Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), United Nations Foundation (UNF)
Nicolás Llano Linares Colombia/Brazil Fundação Getúlio Vargas (ECMI) / Programming Historian en Español
Nicolas Marin Navas Colombia London School of Economics and Political Science
Oskar Szydlowski Poland Polish Institute of Foreign Affairs/BlockFi
Pavel Nabutovsky United States Tufts University/Fletcher
Sean Chen Taiwan New York University School of Law
Sophie Bennani-Taylor United Kingdom/France The University of Edinburgh
Sourav Kumar Panda India/United States Tufts University/Fletcher & CEIBS
Valencia G. Scott United States University of Oxford/UC Davis
Vanessa Gathecha Kenya Baraza Media Lab
Will Abramson United Kingdom Edinburgh Napier University and Legendary Requirements