For the world's poorest, who often have insufficient or no proof of identity, anonymity is rarely a recipe for "freedom." Rather, it's a cause of disenfranchisement, disempowerment, and exclusion.Foreign Policy Magazine picks up on a theme familiar to our regular readers: biometric ID management systems are viewed very differently by the public in the developed world than they are in the developing world.
Many in the West see the implementation of biometric identity management systems as enhancing government power over the people. They can also be implemented to increase the people's power over their government.
Ghost workers are a tried and true corruption technique. Their use impoverishes the society and undermines faith in democratic institutions.
It is difficult to overestimate the damage that corruption inflicts upon the world's poor. Biometric identity management systems can help restore the power of the people over their governments ensuring that scarce government resources are devoted to spurring economic and social development rather than lining the pockets of those who would violate the public trust for their own narrow interests.
Better identity management techniques, are not by themselves sufficient to improve the daily lives of the world's poor, but they are necessary for legitimizing citizens. In order to fully participate in a modern society, one must have a legitimate identity. Otherwise, modern institutions that have lifted billions of people out of poverty -- democracy and banking systems for example -- simply can't deliver their full range of benefits to the society as a whole.
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