Some are warning that the European Union is undergoing a "Chinafication." The EU will reportedly test a new digital identity program for its citizens later this year with a rollout planned for September 2023.
Critics warn that it's a "Trojan horse" that will place too much personal information in the hands of the government.
But the idea is also gaining support in the U.S.
Will the Proposed Digital Identity Be Ripe for Abuse?
An animated EU video with a cheery introduction explains that the EU's upcoming digital identity program will make citizens' lives easier while keeping them safer online.
The video states, "The European Digital Identity wallets will allow us to store and exchange documents and legal information, while fully controlling which data we want to share with whom."
EU President Ursula von der Leyen says digital identities will give citizens control over how their personal data is used and will help stop identity theft.
The so-called digital wallet will be an app on a person's phone and contain only the information they want it to include, such as medical or financial information.
But it's already under attack in the European parliament as something that would be ripe for government abuse.
One of its chief critics, European Parliament Member Cristian Terhes, was born in Communist Romania. He's been warning of the EU's so-called "Chinafication" since the EU made COVID passports mandatory.
Terhes says, "Clearly we are witnessing right now, the 'Chinafication' of Europe, because we see what is happening in China right now with the social credit score, where the government is monitoring ... all the people from the beginning to end, everything that they do, everywhere they walk. They control everything and watch everything. This is an example of tyranny."
Digital Identity Program will be Voluntary…for Now
The EU insists the digital identity program will be voluntary. Skeptics are wondering how long before it becomes mandatory.
European Parliament Member Rob Roos from the Netherlands asked, "How voluntary is the European Digital Identity Wallet? But even more importantly, how voluntary will it remain in the future? Because the European union always comes up with nice plans to eventually abuse it, to create more control."
The EU's COVID passport was supposed to be temporary. Now Brussels wants to extend it until at least June of next year. COVID passports have been used to prevent the unvaccinated from crossing borders, entering grocery stores, using public transportation, and even going to their jobs. They have also helped fuel violent demonstrations the likes of which Europe hasn't seen for decades.
Do Digital Identities Stop Identity Theft? No
Some in Washington are urging Joe Biden to establish digital identities for Americans as a way of fighting identity theft. There is also support in congress. The so-called "Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020" never made it to a vote but could be revived.
We asked an expert on digital identities if they are indeed a necessary safeguard against identity theft. The director of engineering at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Alexis Hancock, not only replied "No," but said digital IDs are more likely to encourage identity theft.
"I think this actually increases the attack vector," Hancock told us, "This makes you a bigger target in my eyes, especially if it's a government issued digital identity. When you have something on the internet for a long time, there is an increased potential of it being breached in some fashion because of this long-term storage. And when you're able to associate something like that with a particular person, you can pivot from that long term identifier to other information about them, and compromise, say your bank accounts or compromise some sort of information about you."
Social Credit Programs Are Also Starting, and Christians May Not Do Well on Them
Not only are digital IDs coming, but in Italy, the cities of Rome and Bologna have begun social credit programs that reward citizens for behavior that officials think will fight climate change, like using a bike instead of a scooter. A social credit system could be easily incorporated into a digital identity.
Austrian Catholic activist Alexander Tschugguel of the St. Boniface Institute, says that in any European social credit system, Christians will lose, because of their opposition to issues like abortion, which the EU views as a human right.
"Therefore I do not want the European Union to have the possibility to look into everything I do, everything I say, everything I have and how I move and where I am at any time," Tschugguel said, "Those systems are pushed by people who are highly anti-Christian."
Terhes warns that the EU's new digital ID is the next step in a process in which the government in Brussels will micromanage every aspect of people's lives.
He said, "This is what makes the difference between a tyranny and democracy: When you know everything about what your government does, that's democracy. When the government knows everything about you, that is tyranny."