COVID-19 as a Catalyst for Advancement of Digital Identity

Perkins Coie

[co-authors: Brandon Thompson and Samantha Ettari]

By restricting and changing the shape of human interaction for over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitalization of many services and, in doing so, reinvigorated efforts to establish a cross-contextual digital identity infrastructure.

In today’s digital and interconnected world, the ability to verify individuals’ identity attributes without resorting to physical identifiers is increasingly important. However, today’s digital identity systems are remarkably underdeveloped. As these systems are forced to evolve to address challenges such as those posed by the COVID19 pandemic, their success will depend upon the effective implementation of at least three digital identity pillars:

1) trust (i.e., confidence that an individual’s digital identity is what it purports to be and has not been altered);

2) user-centricity (i.e., an individual’s ability to exercise control over their digital identity, including protecting the privacy of their attributes); and

3) data security. Together, these three pillars will form the foundational framework of a robust digital identity system and contribute to the growth and adoption of digital identity systems, as well as determine the systems’ utility in accurately identifying individuals and their attributes.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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