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Digital Public Infrastructure Initiative '50-in-5' Officially Launches, Seeks 50 Countries To Adopt Campaign by 2028
Dystopian Top-Down System: The most coveted information globally is your biometric data. If all unfolds as the UN intends, every individual worldwide will possess digital IDs by 2030.
On November 8th, an initiative to develop a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) in 50 countries by the year 2028 was formally launched. Called 50-in-5, this “country-led advocacy campaign” promises to “serve as the digital rails and roads for access and delivery of critical public and private services.”
What Does Any of This Mean?
DPI is defined on the 50-in-5 website as:
“a secure and interoperable network of components that include digital payments, ID, and data exchange systems [and] is essential for participation in markets and society in a digital era. DPI is needed for all countries to build resilient and innovative economies and for the well-being of people.”
These goals are all accelerators of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been covered in-depth by Wrong Speak Publishing’s own Josh Walkos in his recent piece:
According to the 50-in-5 website, Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) starts with a verifiable digital identification to prove authentication. This is, as they put it, to protect your rights, and open the door to economic opportunities. It’s said to offer real-time payments that allow businesses, individuals, and governments to send and receive payments instantaneously. DPI is also said to provide trusted data exchanges, allowing for data and other information to “flow securely and seamlessly.”
Their goal is to have at least 50 countries that have “designed, implemented, and scaled” at least one of the above DPI components within the next 5 years.
Partners of the 50-in-5 initiative include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Digital Public Infrastructure, Co-Develop, Digital Public Goods Alliance, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The official website also notes that support was given to the launch by the Inter-American Development Bank, GovStack, and UNICEF.
Thus far, 11 countries have signed onto the 50-in-5 initiative. Those first 11 countries include Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Singapore, Norway, Sierra Leone, Estonia, Moldova, Senegal, Togo, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka.
These “First-Mover” countries are said to be “both advanced and emerging digital leaders and beacons of progress and inspiration for others to learn from in building their own digital foundations.”
Key leaders from these countries joined in on a 20-minute panel discussion during the launch discussing the implementation of 50-in-5 in their respective countries. The panel featured Dr. Pramod Varma, Former Chief Architect Aadhaar & India Stack and CTO EkStep Foundation, India, Yodahe Zemichael, Executive Director of the National ID Program, Ethiopia, Sarah Espaldon, Head of Marketing and Engagement, Open Government Products, Singapore, and Mahesh Perera, CEO of the Information and Communication Technology Agency, Sri Lanka.
“This is a journey that has to be traveled.” -host of the 50-in-5 launch, Garikai Nhongo, Senior Communications Manager, Co-Develop
The 50-in-5 launch, including the aforementioned panel and representatives from all “First-Mover” countries, can be viewed in its entirety here.
Melinda Gates, MOSIP, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Bill Gates’ ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, also spoke during the 50-in-5 launch via pre-recorded video where she stressed the importance of implementing this system as it pertains to females having control over their own money. She noted that by 2028 an additional 500 million people would be plugged into the digital ID system.
We see this focus on women and girls again in the UNDP Digital Strategy 2022-2025 report, which will be detailed further down in this piece. The Gender Equality Strategy is said to be “gender-responsive,” identifying and addressing different aspects of the “gender digital divide.” In addition, their goals include “economic empowerment through [the] use of and access to digital tools,” ensuring “women and girls become active creators/producers in the digital economy, not just consumers,” improving women’s and girls’ access and use of digital ID, digital finance and mobile connectivity, and ensuring women and girls are protected online.
This digital ID system has been discussed in the past by Bill Gates when he began speaking publicly about The Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP) which was established in 2018 and supported directly by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), which is a professional body under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). MOSIP is also supported by Tata Trusts, Omidyar Network, and Pratiksha Trust, which is an Autonomous Center of the Indian Institute of Science specializing in researching and “transforming the aging brain.”
Each of these organizations is deserving of individual deep-dive articles written on them. Looking at the technology partners alone for Omidyar Network, we find their largest grants include $7.5M from Luminate Projects Limited, which was founded in 2018 by Pierre and Pam Omidyar (Omidyar Network), $2M from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and an additional $2M from World Bank.
According to a 2022 report by Biometric Update on MOSIP:
“The project is funded by 1.5 billion Indian rupees (roughly US$18.8 million) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tata Trust, Omidyar Network, Pratiksha Trust, and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). The Pratiksha Trust, run by an Infosys co-founder has contributed $1 million, the report says, while the Gates Foundation has put up $10 million and Omidyar has contributed $4 million.”
Pratiksha’s EMSTAR project (Extra-Mural Support for Transformational Aging Brain Research) states that part of their focus areas consists of “Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science approaches to decipher normal and pathological aging of the brain.” One could conclude their interest in MOSIP lies in their biometric data collection.
MOSIP’s website further states the program“helps governments conceive, develop, and implement effective Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) in countries. The project enables governments to either adopt digital ID systems or enhance existing systems while ensuring complete ownership over their country’s digital infrastructure.”
In June 2023, Integrated Biometrics, “the leading provider for FBI-certified mobile fingerprint scanners” announced the launch of the MOSIP app for Android.
“Integrated Biometrics is committed to providing leading-edge biometric fingerprint scanners that address the unique challenges faced by developing nations and organizations with limited resources,” said David Gerulski, EVP, of Integrated Biometrics. “By achieving compliance with MOSIP for Android, we are expanding our capabilities to deliver reliable and cost-effective identity solutions that can make a tangible impact in these regions.”
In addition, MOSIP offers an Identity Provider (IdP) module called Signet that allows “users to identify themselves to avail of online services, and share their profile information.” INJI is also available as MOSIP’s Resident Mobile Application which is said to empower ID holders “to securely store, share, and receive digital credentials. Inji can be used to register for social benefits on government portals, open bank accounts, complete security checks at airports, and more.”
The MOSIP program is currently in various stages of adoption in 11 countries which include Sri Lanka, Niger, Guinea, Ethiopia, Togo, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Philippines, Burkina Faso, and Morocco.
Section 16.9 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for every human being on the planet to have a legal identity by 2030, which includes 100% of births and 80% of deaths being recorded and registered. Digital IDs would serve as the pathway to achieve this goal with ease.
Briefly, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, consist of the following 17 goals the UN says are vital through the partnership of government, the private sector, and civil society to achieve before we see the year 2030. Click individual hyperlinks to read how they plan to reach each goal set:
Achieving all 17 SDGs by 2030 may appear nearly impossible within the next six years. However, the implementation of an expedited digital ID system, coupled with the utilization of Artificial Intelligence for data collection, becomes imperative to effectively address and make progress on numerous SDGs.
Digital ID Systems, World Bank ID4D Initiative, & CBDCs
Digital IDs require biometric information from the user which may include fingerprint recognition, iris recognition, face recognition, voice recognition, retina scanning, or even DNA samples.
Used to verify a person’s identity, digital ID systems track their movement, connect users to Smart Cities, and seek to replace their national ID card, passport, driver’s license, or any other form of government-issued identification. All of these are now combined into one digital ID, linking your voting information, health records, and driving record, among other things.
Digital IDs, stored on electronic devices by either the government or private entities connected to your information, gather user data that can be withdrawn at any moment without the user's awareness. The restriction becomes apparent when the user attempts to make a purchase or provide identification.
Considering digital IDs are part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it should come as no surprise that in June 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) partnered with the UN to focus on reaching their 2030 goal of all humans on the planet using this identification system.
As part of the WEF’s “Reimagining Digital ID” report, also from June 2019, they say there is a risk when centralizing the user’s personal information of this data being leaked or stolen, which could give the bad actor instant access to everything linked to the person’s digital ID like health records or banking information.
The World Bank ID4D, with the help of “catalytic contributions” from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK & French Governments, The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and the Omidyar Network seek to use digital IDs to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which includes all nations using Central Bank Digital Currency, or CBDC.
CBDCs are defined by the Federal Reserve as “a digital form of central bank money that is widely available to the general public.”
The Federal Reserve website also describes some of the research projects currently being implemented which include, “a multi-year exploratory research project (Project Hamilton) conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in collaboration with MIT's Digital Currency Initiative to investigate the technical feasibility of a general-purpose CBDC that could be used by an economy the size of the United States, an Innovation Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to facilitate collaboration with the Bank for International Settlements on a number of financial innovations, and a Technology Lab at the Board of Governors that has several CBDC experiments underway.”
The UN’s Digital Strategy 2022-2025 Report
Oddly enough, or perhaps not, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched its first “Digital Strategy” in mid-2019, around the same time the WEF partnered with the United Nations in their quest to reach digital ID for all by 2030, and just a few months before the world was thrown into chaos by Covid-19.
The Digital Strategy 2022-2025 initiative is meant to accelerate the process using already utilized IT transformation such as UNDP’s Accelerator Labs, which is described as a “joint venture with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and the Qatar Fund for Development, the Network is composed of 91 Lab teams covering 115 countries and taps into local innovations to create actionable insights and reimagine sustainable development for the 21st century.”
Accelerator Labs lists the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns, new market expansion, and increased access to digital infrastructure and social media as drivers for the digitalization of informal businesses around the world.
Teaming up with Hyundai Motor Company, Accelerator Labs presented their 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to the public as a strategy to address issues such as pollution, climate change, and social inequality. The documentary "for Tomorrow" was released in September 2022 as part of this initiative.
Accelerator Labs holds nothing back on its stated mission highlighting decarbonization, inequality, and directly referring to the 4th Industrial Revolution, which has been popularized by WEF’s Chairperson Klaus Schwab in recent years:
“We are part of UNDP’s drive to be an incubator for the future. To accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda, we need to be fast and curious. The Accelerator Labs are designed to close the gap between the current practices of international development in an accelerated pace of change. They model a new capability to make breakthroughs on the future of development: inequality, decarbonization, the 4th industrial revolution and new forms of governance.”
In the Digital Strategy 2022-2025 report, the UN describes “digital” as: “An ever-evolving range of technologies (like mobile technologies, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, Internet of Things, and robotics to name a few) that impact all aspects of our world.” Several times within the report, they exclaim that Covid-19 accelerated the need to implement these technologies.
The UN’s Digital Strategy 2022-2025 is in direct support of the UNDP Strategic Plan 2022-2025 to “build inclusive, ethical and sustainable digital societies”.
In collaboration with the aforementioned, the UNDP’s Strategic Innovation Unit lists their goals to include harnessing “the potential of the data revolution, new technologies, innovative finance, urban transformation, and other innovative practices to help our partners roll out solutions to key issues such as air pollution, gender equality, sustainable cities and so much more.”
Some of these goals are said to include the implementation of Smart Cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, using gaming to tackle youth unemployment, tourism, and pollution control in Cyprus and Kyrgyzstan, and “assessing the air quality in Moldova and Ukraine, together with the European Space Agency, using Geospatial EO data and other new types of data,” among other projects within the Strategic Innovation Unit.
UNDP lists its existing assets in the support of “digital programming” here, along with a description of each of their uses:
At this juncture in the article, it's worth noting for those who have followed along that 2025 is rapidly approaching, just a little over a year from now. It is reasonable to anticipate that 2024 will witness a surge in data-gathering efforts and an unprecedented push toward digitizing the global economy.
The UN's rapid push to implement digital IDs for every individual worldwide in a brief timeframe is alarming.
The UN’s Digital Army Is Here To Combat Fake News & Hate Speech!
Not to be forgotten, social media also must be surveilled and controlled, at least according to the UN which states that some posts and information shared online include “falsehoods that can trigger tensions, violence, or even death.”
Oddly enough, the UN’s website, “Building a digital army: UN peacekeepers fight deadly disinformation” says mis and disinformation and “hate speech” are negatively impacting the progress of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This “digital army” is currently being trained to identify false information online with the help of the UN’s mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), known by its French acronym MONUSCO. According to the UN’s Department of Peace Operations, they’re currently training young adults around the globe to be online fact-checkers who combat the false information they find by releasing their own “objective and credible information”.
The following training video goes through the “10 Points to Detect Disinformation”. Step one is to look out for posts written in all caps or using excessive exclamation marks and/or question marks. Step two is to detect how a post may make you feel. I wish I was joking. Other steps include things like the length of posts and their shareability being warning signs that the information may not be legit.
Just this past June, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, claimed the following damage was being done (NOW!) by digital technology, posting on 𝕏:
“Alarm over generative AI, as relevant as it is, must not obscure damage being done by digital tech enabling the spread of hate speech, mis- & disinformation now. Fueling conflict & destruction. Threatening democracy & human rights. Undermining public health & #ClimateAction.”
The Improving Digital Identity Act of 2023
Increasing Cybersecurity Concerns: Every year, there are more and more cases of identity theft/fraud and cyber threats, creating a pressing need for stronger identity verification and protection mechanisms. Traditional methods, like username and password, can be susceptible to phishing scams and data breaches.
Streamlining Access to Online Services: As more services move online, individuals often face the burden of managing multiple usernames and passwords across various platforms.
Protecting User Privacy: The digital age has brought a slew of challenges when it comes to ensuring user privacy is protected and the bare minimum of what should be expected.
Facilitating Digital Transformation: Governments and businesses are increasingly embracing digital transformation to enhance efficiency and improve people's experience. However, cumbersome and fragmented identity verification processes pose great challenges to this area progressing.
Fostering Trust and Confidence: A robust digital identity system is essential for fostering trust between individuals, service providers, and government entities. This is the basis in which adoption of these services will be built on, If trust is lacking, it will severely impact general public adoption.”
BillTrack50.com also makes note of the act creating “a task force whose purpose is ‘to establish and coordinate a government-wide effort to develop secure methods for Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial agencies to improve access and enhance security between physical and digital identity credentials, particularly by promoting the development of digital versions of existing physical identity credentials.’"
Key provisions of the Improving Digital Identity Act of 2023 are as follows:
National Digital Identity Standards: Establish a set of national standards for digital identity systems, ensuring consistency and interoperability across different platforms and sectors. These standards promote the use of secure and reliable technologies for identity verification. The Act aims to promote the adoption of more secure and resilient authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication and biometrics, to mitigate these risks.
Privacy Protection: Require organizations to adhere to strict privacy standards when collecting, storing, and processing digital identity information. Measure such as data encryption, consent-based data sharing, and regular security audits are encouraged to safeguard user information. The Act encourages organizations to adopt privacy-by-design principles, obtain user consent for data sharing, and implement strong security measures to safeguard sensitive information.
User-Centric Approach: Empower individuals by providing people greater control over their digital identities. The Act encourages the development of user-centric identity solutions that allow individuals to manage and control their identity information securely, promoting transparency and fostering trust between individuals and service providers.
Public-Private Partnerships: Encourages public-private partnerships to develop and implement digital identity solutions. By leveraging the expertise and resources of both sectors, the act aims to accelerate the adoption of secure and interoperable digital identity systems.
Research and Development: Promote research and development initiatives to advance digital identity technologies. The bill encourages funding for projects that focus on innovations in identity verification methods, biometrics, decentralized identity systems, and other emerging technologies.
As of the writing of this piece, bill S884, Improving Digital Identity Act of 2023, is yet to have passed in the Senate.
The Weaponization of Data Collection to Control the Population & Steer Society At-Will
Our information is currently being gathered extensively, and biometrics are gradually being introduced to familiarize individuals with the convenience of accessibility, presented to the public as a convenience. In the current landscape where data holds immense value, our bodies transform into commodities as we link up to the Internet of Things (IoT) through our biometrics.
What they don’t want to mention are the restrictions that can be instantly applied to prevent the user from accessing goods and services, including transportation (freedom of movement) and banking. Linking your social media to your digital ID poses the potential risk of hindering your ability to conduct financial transactions based on your online posts.
Elon Musk’s 𝕏 comes to mind. I recently covered Musk’s multi-decade-long dream of creating an “app of everything” that would turn the social media platform into a “digital marketplace”. Musk recently said in a 45-minute team meeting:
“When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life. If it involves money. It’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account,” with Musk adding, “It would blow my mind if we don’t have that rolled out by the end of next year.”
We are swiftly entering an age where a single app could oversee all aspects of our lives. Envision a scenario where each medical record, financial transaction, fleeting thought you've shared, or images you've decided to post online are all under constant surveillance.
Digital ID systems present a myriad of questions. How much time will pass before you start limiting the expression of your thoughts due to the apprehension of potential consequences for speaking your mind? This, alone, will begin to shape culture in an unprecedented way. When social media can silo conversations, or people choose to self-censor, what does that do to society as a whole? Is it still considered free speech if we refrain from expressing our thoughts online due to the fear of retaliation? Will we willingly surrender complete control, entrusting our entire identities for the sake of convenience? Time will tell.
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