Thea Anderson
Director, Beneficial Technology

Why We Invested: Platform for Good Digital Identity

January 21, 2019

Interest in leveraging our digital identities to expand business, communication, healthcare, and other important aspects of society has exploded in the past year.

Technology platforms, policymakers, bank executives, civil rights advocates, and humanitarian organizations — across all geographies and economies — are using digital identities to provide products and services as well as debating the ethics of such uses. While this growth rightfully underscores the complexity of and opportunity within the topic, it has also led to fragmentation among digital identity initiatives and stakeholders.

With this framing, Omidyar Network has invested for the next three years in the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Good Digital Identity, which aims to be a neutral, connective tissue between public and private digital identity efforts and to spark mission-driven collaborations between governments, businesses, and civil society in support of inclusive, user-centric policies, practices, and ethical technologies.

As our personal data is increasingly more likely to be online than not, a foundational, moral question within the evolving digital environment is how our personal data should be used. Policies and standards are trying to keep pace with the latest technology and risks, protecting people while not stifling further innovation. Everyone is trying to answer the question: “what makes Good ID policy, technology, and practice?”

The Forum is well positioned to assemble the right people to help answer that question. With over 1,000 member organizations globally, the World Economic Forum is an independent, international organization, and influential body facilitating public-private cooperation on a broad range of topics of global relevance. The Forum brings together CEOs, heads of state, policymakers, experts and academics, international organizations, youth, technology innovators and representatives of civil society in an impartial space with the aim of driving positive change. Many of which are digital identity stakeholders.

Today, the most active participants on the platform include humanitarian, development, and rights-based organizations; technology platforms and emerging technology startups; academic institutions; and leading companies in financial services, healthcare, energy access, agriculture, and education.

“The diverse perspectives and expertise of this growing community — across industry, government and civil society — have already started to drive meaningful progress toward a shared understanding and practice of good ID. By establishing a dedicated three-year program, we believe the Forum will be even better positioned to facilitate meaningful partnerships, learning and collaboration,” said C. V. Madhukar, global digital identity lead at Omidyar Network.

Throughout the next three years, the Forum will bring digital identity issues through to existing annual thematic and geographic summits, online platform, and offline conversations to help:

  • Move the emphasis beyond “identity for all” to identities that deliver user value and that represent Good ID
  • Facilitate the development of shared metrics and accountability frameworks
  • Improve governance and models for identity ecosystems, operated by both the private and public sector
  • Synthesize and amplify learnings on user-value and metrics to assess the practice of good identity
  • Facilitate partnerships around best practices and interoperability made visible and advanced through the Good Digital Identity Platform
  • Shape the dialogue with publications, building on the recent Identity in a Digital World white paper and Our Shared Digital Future

The Platform for Good Digital Identity sits within the Forum’s broader initiative on the Future of Digital Economy and Society, which works to build a sustainable, inclusive, and trustworthy digital word through six, interrelated agendas. In addition to building a community unique to digital identity issues, the platform will also link to the Forum’s regional initiatives and connect with discussions on the Future of Work and ethical technology.

We are pleased to support the platform because of the values it promotes and its focus on user experiences. ID must deliver real value to individuals, to not only drive adoption and usage, but to be considered a Good ID. The Forum offered some thoughtful reflections on five elements of user-centric, digital identity here.

With the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting upon us the week of January 21, we look forward to learning the outcomes and new partnerships resulting from the discussions, all of which will advance an empowering form of digital identity — Good ID.


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