Digital technologies offer great potential for the marginalised populations of the world in many dimensions of their lives, including communication, commerce, financial inclusion, disaster recovery and the delivery of aid. However, digital technologies can also play a divisive role.

By enabling the powerful who can access key information and who have the capability to develop infrastructure, it often penalises those who cannot, especially the most disadvantaged. This is consequently increasing inequality and marginalisation.

In this respect, technology is not neutral, and its design can strongly influence and shape our future society. We argue that distributed ledger technologies present an opportunity for marginalised populations, by empowering them to manage their data and business practices and achieve demarginalisation by involving the community in a decentralised manner.

Distributed ledger technologies allow cooperative actions for marginalised populations to refocus away from the most powerful gatekeepers and ease the conflicting interests between governments, non-government organisations and entrepreneurs. Here we present fundamental design constraints for digital technology services in a human rights context. We also discuss an approach for decentralised digital identity that complies with these fundamental design constraints.

Centralised infrastructure is economically efficient and may create value, both financial and political, for those groups who authorise, build, operate and oversee the systems that use it. Often, the interests of such groups are not aligned with the populations they serve. Read more from…

thumbnail courtesy of