11F/ Conspiracy Theories about digital ID - What are they? How do we respond?

From IIW

Identity Conspiracy Theories

Session Convener: Kaliya Young

Notes-taker(s): Charles E. Lehner, Chris

Tags / links to resources / technology discussed, related to this session:

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Reason for attending

  • Concerning articles
  • Anti age verification
  • EFF/ACLU shared concerns
  • Sounds like fun
  • No one believes Google
  • Why is WEF seen as evil?
  • My family is concerned; open to talking
  • Explores confusion
  • When I tell people - it’s bad
    • GlobalID
  • ___ is evil.
  • Biometrics

Books about conspiracy theories in identity

  • Thinking that Adhar and Social credit score are “what’s next”

People posted conspiracy theory videos about people in this community - were removed Someone from ID2020 getting death threats

Impacts to personal safety of people in this community

The kernel/seeds of truth in the theories

Examples of Conspiracy Theories

  • Any new tech for buying and selling -> Book of revelation number of the beast
  • Encryption backdoored. Seed of truth: clipper chip - some encryption does have backdoors.
  • Age verification
    • Honey pot for attackers
    • Access data of minors
    • Have to buy into the system otherwise be treated as a child online
  • Hard to imagine corporations doing the right thing
  • Enhanced tracking
  • Tracking is happening
  • Fake sites abuse trust
  • Any ID system -> confiscate guns and money; concentration camp. Slippery slope argument.
    • Seed of truth: WW2; more Jews were rounded up in Holland because they had better records
  • Monitor and limit purchases
  • Lack of trust with authority / governments
  • Bill Gates chip. Seed of truth: he loves Adhar. (Adhar: centralized phone-home database of all Indians)
  • Government-funded tech from MIT, military money, shaping credentialling of education. AI -> train robots to replace people’s jobs.
  • Decentralized identity just a shill to (de)legitimize crypto/NFTs
  • Digital ID -> Central bank digital currencies -> Control
  • One World Order
  • Naive scientists, not asking if “should”
  • Startup with good intentions
  • Funding from DHS
  • Solution looking for problem

Fact: some aspects of the technology has inherent dangers

Combination of digitization and standardization -> surveillance.

People feel anonymous even though tracking effectively creates identity without a name.

Logic against conspiracy theories in general: organizing is really hard.

Congress - can’t get anything done. Really hard to organize people to do anything.

Hard to keep secrets.

Research: how people’s minds change.

Flood of with conflicting information

Present with facts: doesn’t change minds.

Ask to explain. Simple questions, and don’t oppose.

Treat people with compassion and respect. Your mind may change, and so may theirs.

“What are you concerned about?” What is your fear? I’m concerned about that too. We work on this and want to hear what you think.

“I’m so glad to hear people are working not hat stuff”

“How does that work exactly?”

Book: “Never split the difference” - hostage negotiation


Convince: only use “when” and “how”. - key questions.

Other questions… defensive.

Cognitive bias: What we see is what we think is true.

Allay fears

Own experience -> what we think tru

Debate on whether should respond at all, vs how to respond.

When you do respond, don’t make it worse.

Astroturfing: getting parties to support; backfires

Streisand effect: trying to ban it spreads it

Feelings are true: experience of system causing harm

Meet the public where they are at.

Humility. Real problems are not “out of scope”

Response must be credible. “We wouldn’t do that, because it would cost us money”.

Build in genuine opportunities for recourse.

Can’t just say no choice for life.

Harms are more than just money lost. Mental, physical, multi-dimensional harms.

Learning about the past to understand how we got to now.

We have digital identities already even we don’t log into anything, because we interact with institutions that host our data in database records.

No databases with names -> institutions melt down to nothingness.

Book: “Records, computers and the rights of citizens”. Has clear language about computer records. Language after that got obfuscated and corporate-speakified.

Humanize our community. Share our stories.

Open and model radical transparency.

Listen to CCG call recordings.

Tone down hyperbolic revolutionary language. We’re just building tools. Demonizing traditional identity doesn’t create credibility.

The feeling of truthiness. Confirmation bias. Useful to make people feel seen and heard.

Invite people to be part of the solution.

Disinformation uses anger to get engagement. More interesting to be outraged. Modifying people’s behavior to be afraid and angry. Why?

Mainstream gets details right. Hold people accountable.

Save-the-world “one solution” is not the way. What is the unique value you are adding?

What incentives drive conspiracies?

Short-term, long-term reward.

Identify and shift incentives to not promote ignorance, fear, anger.

Who are our allies and leaders?

Getting excited about adoption… Covid credentials -> tells people “If you sign up for our tech, you can do the things you could already do before, otherwise you can’t”

Same with age verification.

Compare to alternatives… giant public database of names of vaccinated.

Outrage and scandal structurally rewarded by platforms.

Transparency with business models.

Possible to make money doing things the wrong way.

We’re planning to do things the good way; if we lose your trust we don’t make money.

Need to rewrite terms of service to be clear.

Fund strategic communications. The work to communicate clearly. How to fund and amplify…


Otherification. Outrage at the problem “over there”.

The Social Dilemma. Can’t combat that with a spec and GitHub repo.

Meaningful public participation and engagement.

HANDWRITTEN NOTE PICTURES: See image(s) for these notes in the IIWXXXIV Book of Proceedings here:


Notes: Chris

28th Thurs Session 1 F

Conspiracy theories - Kaliya Young 9:30-10:30

Concerning articles

Anti-age verification

EFF/ACLU Objections

suspicion of the WEF

Concerns in personal circles

explore confusion

talk about BAD Global ID

Biometrics concerns



Named people from the Identity community - Pam, Sam Jones

Dakota Grüner - death threats

Poterntial danger to personal safety

List the theory - drill down to the seed of truth that keeps it alive

  1. New tech - buying and selling - book of revelations, marking tracking
    1. Anchoring barcodes with 6...6...6... GS1 - OOPS
  2. All encryption has backdoors - for government?
    1. ClipperChips
    2. Some encryption does have backdoors/holes
  3. Age verification
    1. Just a way to track behaviour
    2. Honeypot for hackers
    3. Phishing
    4. Locking adults out of society if you don't buy into th system
    5. New way to access protected data of Minors
      1. Corporations have normalised tracking, lack of trust in them/the system
      2. There are actual bad actors out there looking to exploit and manipulate
      3. No mutual atuhentication
  4. Confiscation of guns, money, concentration camps are next
    1. Slippery slope argument
  5. Distrust of institution
    1. We lack compelling narratives to talk about the real guarantees of the tech
  6. Gov with total control, forbid behaviour, or create disadvantage
    1. Value judgements of behaviour
    2. Canadians
    3. China social credit system
  7. Digitization and standartdization both together potentiate harm
    1. actual inherent dangers
  8. Mistaken belief that people are anonymous on the internet -status quo
    1. Fear of this changing for the worse
    2. Media panic about blockchain
  9. Mom from Boston
    1. concern in Education space
    2. Resist standardized testing
    3. Proving educational attributes - work history
    4. learning economy - refusing
    5. Alison
  10. Decentralized ID a ruse to support or destabilize NFTs crypto
  11. route to new world order
  12. assumption the community has lack of governance, naive

Startup gets bought out and repurposed

Funding from DHS

Kaliya is a YGL

solution looking for a problem? Shoehorning it in where it is unsuitable

One bit of logic against consp theories

US congress for example

Don't assume malice when it can simply be ignorance/negligence

Studies on how people change their minds

Exposure to multiple sources can help change their mind

Overwhelmed by conflicting info

Intentionally overload with info to muddy the water

Ask people to explain it and watch their arguments unravel

Ask how not why?

Making people feel seen/heard/ show thoughtful work

Never split the difference - book - hostage negotiator

People have legitimate concerns - engage with them

Our emotional brains are the strongest

Confirmation bias

Debate on how/if to respond

When you do respond - do not make the situtation worse

Needs a credible response

Many of these theories contain a grain of truth


Meet public where they are at

Build-in genuine mechanisms of recourse

New types of agency

Multi-dimensional harms

Learning about the past - how we got to now

We are already in systems without active choice

We have interacted with institutions

1973 records, computers and the rights of citizens

Best information practices


Telling our own stories

Humanizing our community

As a community

Model radical transparaency

Temperate language

Do not demonize existing structures

Engagement incentivization - outrage travels furthest and is rewarded by the platforms

Don't assume that general public or specific subsets hold such extreme views

Pitfalls of rushed-out global Covid tech

What existing things add value

Who is incentivizing these theories and why?

Who are our allies and who are our leaders?

Covid as example use-case - be careful

Don't want to be seen as gatekeeping liberties (like covid)

Be honest about for-profit business models

Fund strategic comms

Revisit presentation/format of ToS for greater transparency/

Topics That People Are Concerned About

  • Anti-age verification
  • Sounds like fun
  • No one believes Google is focusing on privacy.
  • Why MEF Seen as Eveil
  • Video conspiracy theories ID2020 (Dakota Bruner was getting death threats)
  • My family is concerned and wants to explain it to them.

What are the conspiracy theories?


|Book of revelation, we are being numbered by the beast | Gs1 anchored barcodes with 666 |

|All encryption has a back door | Some encryption does have a backdoor, clipper chip|

|Age verification, tracking behavior online, a honeypot for hackers, phishing exercise, access the data of minors, an attempt that everyone has to buy-in for tracking, otherwise eternally a child|1. tracking has become normal, is happening 2. there are fake sites that are abusing trust, 3. don’t have mutual authentciation|

|Any ID system censorship, concentration camp, shut off money |slippery slope argument, “Germany,” ww2 holland had recorded over everyome|

|Bill Gates is putting a chip|Gates fan of Adhaar, centralized phone home ID of all Indians|

|New tech buying and selling|Mom, Boston, concerned about standardized testing…micro-credentials for explaining skills, train robots to do everyone’s job, Alison ???|

|Dehumanizing people| |

|Consiricity to make money, controlled by central back digital currecies||

|All about creating the one world order||

|Digital ID-CBDC-Control| |

|Science is naive about what they’re making||

|you can’t get things done|U.S. Congress|

Seeds of Truth

  • There is vulnerability
  • Fake sites are out there stealing data
  • Germany history WW2
  • Lack fo trust
  • Cambridge Analytica
  • Tracking is happing
  • Startup with good intentions gets bought by evel
  • Kaliya is a YGL w/MEF
  • Solution looking for a problem
  • Some of the work is funded by DHS
  • Congress (you can’t get anything done)
  • People are overwhelmed with conflicting information.
  • Reality
  • Digitalization has real ramifications, risks, threats, and dangers.
  • Solutions
  • Evangelism
  • Education
  • Expose people to facts form multiple sources
  • Ask conspiracy theories to explain the conspiracy, ask “How” not “Why”
  • Try to understand people’s fear, what are they worried about
  • Acknowledge concerns
  • Determine should we respond vs. how to respond; if you do respond, have a credible response, e.g. “I do this because of XYZ budiness model.”
  • Meet the public where they’re at
  • Be more humble; there is a lot that me may not want
  • Building legitimate opportunities for recourse, addressing the issue of multi-dimensional harms (harms is not just about money)
  • Share the history/Understand the history (we have a digital ID already, your data is in the database)
  • Tell more success stories.
  • Tone down the hyperbolic language; just say “we’re building tools.”
  • Get the basics right.
  • HOLD groups accountable, e.g. Equifax contract.
  • Understand the incentives that drive the conspiracy, what are they getting out of it
  • Identify allies and leaders.
  • Need to be transparency about business models, how are we going to make money with your data
  • Write terms of service and policies that people understand.
  • Fund strategic communications so that we can communicate clearly about this stuff? How to fund and amplify good work in this pace.
  • Crowdfund an “anit-social dillema” movie, a movie that shows the good we are doing
  • Find meaningful public engagement behind these schemes


  • Standards are not a selling point for the average person.
  • Inability to convey and explain any sort of real guarantee
  • Referenced Resources/Examples
  • Learning Education Foundation (???), Kaliya reference
  • Book: Never Split the Difference by Criss Voss - the only two words you should use are “When” and “How” the other question phrases put people on defense.
  • Frequency effect, what we see with think is true.
  • Streisand effect_ - “ a phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of increasing awareness of that *information, often via the Internet.”
  • Book: Records, Computers, And the Rights of Citizens (PDF); Records, Computers, And the Rights of Citizens R2 (PDF)
  • Move: Social Dilemma