Wednesday 21st June, 9–10:30am EST / 3–4:30pm CEST / 4–5:30pm EAT

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Event description: A new consensus is emerging among policymakers around the world: digital public infrastructure (DPI) will shape the future of government and society. DPI refers to large-scale digital platforms that are built, funded, or supported by governments to enable the provision of essential society-wide services, and that are designed and governed in service of the public good. DPI is promoted as helping to safeguard against the excesses of surveillance capitalism by increasing public control and governance over online platforms, to advance inclusive development, and to accelerate the transition to more efficient online public services.

At the base of many DPI initiatives lie digital identification systems. These large-scale systems, which allow for the verification of certain details about the identity of individuals, are seen as foundational to DPI because they underlie and enable many other key services such as banking, voting, or social protection.

But these digital ID systems remain heavily contested, and legal challenges are underway in numerous countries around the world. These cases raise serious human rights issues that have arisen surrounding the rollout of such digital systems, including heightened risks of surveillance, discriminatory algorithmic sorting, and exclusion from social services, among others. The diversity of human rights concerns raised in these ongoing legal challenges suggests that further critical discourse and enhanced safeguards are required as the foundations of DPI are designed and implemented.

In this event, we will discuss four recent case studies of digital ID related litigation from Uganda, Mexico, Serbia, and Kenya. Expert speakers who have been at the forefront of efforts to raise the human rights concerns at hand will discuss the current evidence around human rights risks and the key questions surrounding the digital ID systems deployed within their country. They will also look forward, to assess whether some of the remedies sought in these cases might form an emerging model of the human rights safeguards required within efforts to roll out DPI. They will explore how the issues raised in each case may provide valuable lessons for the future of DPI.

Keynote Speaker: Nanjala Nyabola


Elizabeth Atori, Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (Uganda)

Grecia Macías, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (Mexico)

Danilo Ćurčić, A11 Initiative (Serbia)

Yasah Musa, Nubian Rights Forum (Kenya)


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