Imagine a centralized database replete with your personal information that links together your and your family’s vital health, education, and social welfare records. Now imagine the database includes an entire country’s population.
Fifty years ago this year, Denmark launched the world’s first nationalized big data project. The country’s Civil Personal Registration (CPR) system assigns every resident a “digital ID” that directly connects them with the Danish state to facilitate government-citizen interactions from birth to death and everywhere in between. Originally created to render tax collection and the distribution of social benefits more efficient, the system has become a popular and benevolent instrument in Denmark built on the values of trust in government and sense of community.
Now similar data infrastructures—often built by private sector platforms—are being applied across the globe, but in a climate in which data breaches are growing more frequent and more severe, their implications must adapt to the opportunities—and account for the challenges—of twenty-first century technology. How can citizens ensure their personal data isn’t vulnerable to hacking and that their privacy rights are being upheld? What safeguards must government and the private sector take on to guarantee data is used and stored securely? What do CPR-modeled platforms mean for the future of digital democracy?
Join New America NYC, in partnership with the Consulate General of Denmark in New York and Columbia University’s European Institute, for a set of conversations on the past, present, and future of digital identity—and the measures we need in place to ensure its use for good.