Would we be able to utilize digital profiles within migration?
When talking about migration it becomes clear that there are many aspects to be considered within the phenomenon. One individualistic aspect is identity, which is important for immigrants. If we look at how many people globally lack legal identity, we find that the amount is as high as one-fifth of the global population. This is a big problem. If the migrant does not have legal identity, he/she will be denied access to basic needs such as work opportunities, an apartment, bank account, phone etc. (Cheesman, 2016). This means that there are many who are excluded from the basic needs, due to the fact that they have lost or never received legal identity. How is this fare? That just because of a paper you will not receive service. How would it be possible to tackle this problem?
We who participate in a MOOC course online at the University of Helsinki might not think much of it. Everything within the course can be done online with the help of different platforms. How then could we consider the correlation between technology, identity and migration? What if I said that with a digital profile it would be possible to create a safety net for people in conflict or natural hazard areas, or why not for people traveling a lot. It might be problematic if your identity is dependent on a piece of paper or passport. What happens if they are lost? How are you able to cross borders and prove your identity?
Not only would digital identity work as a safety net, but it could also enable an easier migration process. Currently many countries require a paper birth certificate for identifying the person. Why could this not become more utilized with digital means? Furthermore, from the intercultural encounters perspective it could help integrate the individual faster in the society and lessen the exclusion, since bureaucratic work takes a long time. It is impossible today to cross borders if you do not have any form of identification methods. With the profile, you would be able to keep information such as personal identification, health and bank information, educational background, travel information as such. This information would you yourself be able to choose who to share it with, for example the travel information with the border control and immigration service. When you have arrived in the country you could easily with your digital identity profile start adapting to the local life.
Sure, currently it is not possible to create a unified global profile system for all due to countries having different approaches and the risks it brings on, but it could be an alternative in the future. With the help of digital identity and a unified system, it would be possible to make the integration process smoother and more efficient. The world is moving towards a more technological development. I do not argue that travel should become digitalized completely, it is still a necessary safety precaution to have a passport and other identification methods aside from one single profile.
Posted on behalf of the author
This blogpost was written based on the writer’s own knowledge of digital identity received from participating in Demola Global Oy’s innovative research challenge Digital Identity at Work. The research was done with Sibell, Akther, Yao and Bizhanova (2021).
Cheesman, M. (2016). “Global digital identity – goodbye to national passports? The new geography of human rights.” Open Migration. https://openmigration.org/en/op-ed/global-digital-identity-goodbye-to-national-passports-the-new-geography-of-human-rights/
Sibell, S., Akther, S., Nyberg, S., Yao, A., Bizhanova, A. (2021). Digital Identity at Work. Demola Global Oy. (Unpublished report).
Picture 1: Nyberg, S. (2021). Picture created in Canva. https://www.canva.com