MOSIP: A digital identity game-changer - Hindustan Times

MOSIP: A digital identity game-changer

May 09, 2024 01:24 PM IST

This article is authored by Amit Singh, partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP.

In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, digital identity for citizens is more crucial than ever. However, over 850 million people in the world have no legal or verifiable proof of identity. A secure and robust identification system not only recognises a citizen but also enhances the level of trust that enables the governments to effectively deliver services and empower people.

Data security(Representative image) PREMIUM
Data security(Representative image)

The year 2010 saw the introduction of Aadhaar in India--using minimal demographic and biometric information, it quickly became the catalyst for seamlessly connecting an individual’s digital identity to social protection schemes and benefits, thus enabling inclusion of even the underserved and marginalised populace.

The recently concluded G20 summit in New Delhi recognised the need for Digital Public Goods (DPGs) in operationalising Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI). Deloitte recently released a framework for DPIs, which helps countries understand, implement, and harness the potential of DPIs to accelerate digital transformation while fostering inclusive and sustainable development. As countries embark on the journey of inclusive digital identity systems, one cannot overlook the pivotal role of Indian DPG viz Modular Open-Source Identity Platform (MOSIP).

MOSIP, established in 2018 and incubated at IIT Bengaluru has immense potential to be recognised as one of the world’s most comprehensive open-source ID platforms. This has emerged particularly useful for countries with low IT capacity and infrastructure to implement identity solutions. The MOSIP platform is in various stages of implementation by countries. National rollouts are currently being conducted in Morocco, Philippines, Ethiopia, Togo, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Cambodia--with a completed pilot in Burkina Faso. Pilots are in progress in Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Congo, Peru, Nigeria, Zambia and Mexico.

MOSIP is built on the bedrock of data security and privacy that not only acts as a bridge between social protection and digital identity but can also be customised to meet a nation’s service delivery requirements. In 2023, two additional modules, INJI – digital wallet and eSignet-Digital Identity verification, were released which allows countries to seamlessly authenticate identity and issue verifiable credentials with a focus on instilling trust in digital transactions.

In addition, MOSIP also allows easy integration with other relevant DPGs such as OpenCVRS which registers births and deaths and Open G2P which enables government-to-person digital payments. Hence, MOSIP cannot be the sole engine to drive a nation’s digital ID solutions, for it needs biometric device vendors, deduplication software, card or credential printing machines, and system integrators--all of whom make the system fully functional.

Pramod Varma, the chief architect of Aadhaar in one of his interviews highlighted that success of Aadhaar is attributed to three core principles i.e. absolute minimalism, open source and ecosystem play. MOSIP seeks to build on the same whilst allowing countries to onboard interoperable modules within its ambit by:

· Being horizontally scalable such that every citizen of a country is included.

· Ensuring security and privacy of citizens with a consent framework that allows users to choose what to share and where.

· Making personally identifiable information inaccessible to external parties without user consent, hence, establishing trust.

· Allowing widespread use and seamless integration.

· Encouraging healthy competition by being vendor neutral and bringing down country costs as compared to black box solutions.

· By building an ecosystem of strong consulting and implementation partners to advocate and implement the platform.

Countries in Global South need support on technical knowhow, domain knowledge, capacity building and strong institutional mechanisms to execute and maintain such large-scale digital ID ecosystems. MOSIP is a remarkable innovation that can act as an enabler for these countries to achieve their larger socio economic and sustainable development goals. However, there is a strong need to strengthen trust and foster relationships with the network countries as there might be reluctance to use freely available product. Second, every country has its own regulatory and legal framework. Hence, the customisation of MOSIP to fit in the regulatory framework of a country without violating any law would require thorough assessment.

In essence, MOSIP offers a pathway to inclusive digital identity, enabling nations to empower their citizens. Creation of digital identities through MOSIP will aid governments ensure smooth implementation of social protection measures.

This article is authored by Amit Singh, partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP.

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