CITRIS Policy Lab releases two new white papers on digital identification and facial recognition

by Edward Kang

The CITRIS Policy Lab published two white papers, outlining civil and political rights protections for digital ID and facial recognition systems, to two leading organizations in these fields — ID2020 and GoodID. 


The Responsible Digital ID: Effects of Data Governance Policies and Practices on Human Rights report addresses the need for greater coordination regarding the estimated 1 billion people lacking formal identification globally. While national and corporate institutions are deploying identification systems in response that may greatly benefit these individuals, no clear ethical or moral guidelines have been internationally accepted in making sure that people’s rights are protected. CITRIS Policy Lab Director Brandie Nonnecke and Goldman School of Public Policy MPP students Henriette Ruhrmann and Andreas Sampson Geroski co-authored this paper.

“If these systems aren’t built within a human rights context, there may be serious risks to civil protections. This report provides guidance to better ensure national digital ID system don’t infringe upon civil and political rights,” said Nonnecke.

Through an exploration of China, Estonia, Argentina, and Kenya as case studies, digital identification ethical concerns are highlighted. The report concludes with priority recommendations for data protection, political participation, and inclusion of diverse identities. 

The second report, Facing the Future: Protecting Human Rights in Policy Strategies for Facial Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement, Ruhrmann’s senior capstone thesis project, offers a framework to ensure ethical considerations when implementing these technologies. The report provides two case studies of law enforcement agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom to emphasize possible violations of civil and political liberties. Without such recommendations, human rights may be violated in the deployment of these technologies in regards to discrimination, privacy, and due process.

The CITRIS Policy Lab will continue its work in studying the role of new technologies in persecuting the disadvantaged. Two reports on the impact of twitter bots in perpetuating political divisiveness and hate speech will be released some time in November.


Featured photo:

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners. Find out more at