Announcing the “Human-Centric Digital Identity: for Government Officials” Final Whitepaper

Published September 25, 2023

Published September 25, 2023, revised October 13, 2023.

Version 1.1 of this paper was published October 13, 2023 as we are pleased to confirm MOSIP was added as a co brand partner of the paper. Revision history is available upon request.

The OpenID Foundation is pleased to announce that the “Human-Centric Digital Identity: for Government Officials” whitepaper is now available, with this final version co-branded by twelve non-profit organisations.

This paper offers a broad view of the global digital identity landscape, key considerations for government officials, and the path ahead to global interoperability. Importantly, the paper is grounded in the role of digital identity in the wider international human rights agenda and the recent OECD Digital Identity Recommendations.

The paper started with many months of due diligence including public listening sessions at FIDO’s Authenticate in 2022, OIDF’s workshop in 2022, and two Internet Identity Workshops (IIWXXXV-XXXVI) as well as interviews with subject matter experts. The draft paper was subject to public review this summer with numerous contributions from individuals and non-profits. Contributors over time included technologists working on digital identity standards, government officials, policymakers, legal scholars, human rights advocates, and civil society thought leaders. The twelve organizations that support and co-branded the whitepaper are:

  1. Decentralized Identity Foundation    
  2. Identity Defined Security Alliance     
  3. IDPro  
  4. ID4Africa
  5. Kantara Initiative        
  6. MyData          
  7. OpenID Foundation   
  8. Open Identity Exchange
  9. Secure Identity Alliance         
  10. Trust Over IP Foundation       
  11. UN Refugee Agency   
  12. Women in Identity
  13. MOSIP

Part 1 of the paper explores the opportunities and risks inherent in Digital Identity technologies, with motivations that can vary considerably by country from economic drivers, to enabling access to social services, to national security. The paper then moves into Part 2, which analyzes Digital Identity paradigms across markets, and identifies common trade-off decisions.  For example, the paper references a sister whitepaper, “Government-issued Digital Credentials and the Privacy Landscape” (Flanagan, 2023), which delves deeply  into challenges of creating a globally viable privacy-preserving Digital Identity landscape. Part 3 builds upon existing principles-based literature, especially the recently published OECD Recommendations on the governance of Digital Identity, to help government officials navigate through these decisions.

The paper recognizes that no one size fits all nations, that no technology or architecture will be the default model for all countries. Multiple systems will co-exist, and in some cases, there may be multiple systems in a single jurisdiction. However, the paper argues that there are design practices and strategic approaches that will guide government officials and their stakeholders towards Digital Identity Systems that sustain and promote human rights. The paper also highlights the potential for global digital identity infrastructure to empower the ability of all people to assert their identity in person and remotely cross borders, while respecting domestic sovereignty.

Although this is the final version of the paper, we are still at the start of critical domestic conversations on digital identity, and a global conversation on how to enable global interoperability across these domestic systems.  The editors would like to thank all the individuals who took part in listening sessions, interviews, and provided written feedback, as well as the co-branding partner organizations. The editors would also like to give a special thanks to the contributors who challenged the paper to give voice to the challenges of vulnerable populations, including stateless people, and migrant families.