A national digital ID system for U.S. citizens is fast becoming a reality following a vote by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to advance the Improving Digital Identity Act.
Digital IDs act as online, data-laden representations of human beings. Many analysts, such as the authors of a 2019 McKinsey Global Institute report, argue they could be the key to unlocking access to financial services, various government benefits and educational opportunities, as well as a number of other critical services. Some of the same analysts, however, also warn that the “risks and potential for misuse of digital ID are real and deserve careful attention.”
Although the concerns about digital IDs are real, it’s important to separate the facts from the fearmongering fiction.
In simple language, a digital identity enables an individual to prove who they are in the virtual world. Proponents claim digital IDs offer greater privacy than traditional forms of identification and can help minimize some of the risks associated with physical documents such as driver’s licenses, passports, etc. Others, though, are quick to sound the alarm, warning that the introduction of digital IDs will almost certainly lead to an erosion of civil liberties.
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