Panel 2 | Global Perspectives on ID Numbers and ID Cards

Friday November 20, 9:15 – 10:45am



National identification systems may use a number, a card, either, or both. They can be mandatory or voluntary and have different eligibility requirements. The underlying purpose may range from efficient administration of existing programs to purposeful encouragement of social and economic development with the goal of reducing local or global inequality. More recently they have been used as a tool to fight terrorism.

Using several case studies, this panel will discuss the various ways of designing national identification systems, exploring the potential pros and cons and the implementation considerations of each approach.


Robert Palacios, Global Lead, Pensions and Social Insurance Group, Social Protection and Labor Practice, World Bank

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Robert Palacios is Global Lead for the Pensions and Social Insurance Group in the Social Protection and Labor Practice of the World Bank. Between 1992-1994, he was a member of the research department team that produced the World Bank’s influential volume on international pension systems, “Averting the Old Age Crisis: Policies to Protect the Old and Promote Growth”. Since 1995, he has divided his time between operational work and research with work in more than two dozen countries. His publications include articles and books on old age poverty, health insurance and a wide range of pension policy issues. Since 2014, he has been part of the multi-sectoral working group responsible for the World Bank’s Identification for Development initiative, developing and piloting assessment tools in several countries with a focus on Africa.


Ian Watson, Associate Professor, Media Technology Lab, Gjovik University College, Norway

ian watsonIan Watson has published an in-depth study of national identification numbers in Iceland, which has one of the world’s most open and widely-used personal numbering systems. For many years he has been interested in the broader topic of everyday-life numbering systems and their administration. Ian has worked in genealogy for three decades, both as an amateur and a professional, and is interested in the history of civil registration and in records accessibility. He is an associate professor at Gjøvik University College in Norway, where he teaches information architecture to media design students. Before coming to Gjøvik he spent ten years as a teacher and administrator at Bifröst University in Iceland. His original training is in linguistics (A.B., Harvard) and the study of standardization and convention (Ph.D., Rutgers).


Edgar Whitley, Associate Professor of Information Systems, London School of Economics

EdgarWhitley3Edgar is an Associate Professor (Reader) in Information Systems in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research covers identity policy, privacy, cloud computing and public management.

Edgar was the research coordinator of the influential LSE Identity Project on the UK’s proposals to introduce biometric identity cards; proposals that were scrapped following the 2010 General Election. His book with Gus Hosein Global Challenges for Identity Policies was published by Palgrave in 2010. Edgar has also advised governments in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Jamaica and Mexico about the political, technological and social challenges of effective identity policies.

Edgar is co–chair of the UK Cabinet Office Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group, a member of the BCS Information Privacy Expert Panel, a member of the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) Academic Liaison Panel and a member of the ESRC Administrative Data Research Network: Information Assurance Expert Group.

Edgar has a BSc (Econ) and PhD in Information Systems, both from the LSE. He is the co–editor of Information Technology and People, Senior Editor for the Journal of Information Technology and the AIS Transactions of Replication Research and an Associate Editor for the Journal of the AIS. He has served as research co-chair for the European Conference on Information Systems, track co-chair for the International Conference on Information Systems and was previously an associate editor for the European Journal of Information Systems and MIS Quarterly.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Director General and Mission Director, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

Ajay Bhushan Pandey Photo Nov 2015

Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey is Director General of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). He is an officer of Indian Administrative Service having over 30 years of experience at various positions in Government of India and state government of Maharashtra. In his stint in UIDAI, he has been steering implementation of Aadhaar project in India since its launch in 2010. He closely worked with federal and state governments, banks, oil companies and other stakeholders to enable use of Aadhaar platform in programs such as financial inclusion, Direct Benefit Transfers, and E-governance. In his earlier assignments in Government during 2003 -2010, he provided leadership to E-Governance projects such as Common Service Centres, State wide area network, E-tendering, E-district, and was instrumental in bringing several important e-Government policies.

Dr. Pandey is a graduate of Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur. In 1998 he went on to join University of Minnesota where he obtained his MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science. In 2009, he was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals by the University of Minnesota for his outstanding leadership accomplishments in his professional career.