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Microsoft Alliance ID2020 Universal Digital Identity and You

Last year, Microsoft joined the ID2020, a global alliance whose goal is to create universal digital identities for everyone. What are the social, economic, and ethical implications of such an initiative? Our digital activities are more and more consistent with our real activities. Participation in the modern economy, the ability to buy and sell, get jobs, medical care, social services and much more is almost impossible without a digital identity.

In May 2016, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, ID2020, an alliance of governments, nonprofits, academia, more than 150 private sector companies and 11 United Nations agencies collaborated on how to ensure a unique digital identity for everyone on the planet. Most of the scope of the ID2020 alliance is focused on its noble goal of providing digital identification to more than one billion refugees, women, children and others without any form of identification.

The idea of ​​providing digital identification of this “invisible” part of the world’s population to ensure their participation in society puts a human face on a true mission. It also creates a unifying point, which this Open Alliance hopes that other organizations, such as Microsoft, will accept and become part of this global effort. The fundamental mission of creating a universal identification system that includes every person on the globe, using modern technology and the support of various governments, financial institutions and much more, is the goal hidden behind the humanitarian cause.

Alliance ID2020 and its goal until 2030

According to the alliance’s guidance, “By 2030, it seeks to contribute to the expansion of a secure, verifiable and sustainable digital identification system in line with the Sustainable Development Goals” agreed by the United Nations. “This is a short-term focus on achieving this goal – developing and testing the best technology solutions for digital identification; and working with governments and other entities to implement them. The emphasis on 1.5 billion undocumented people is part of this short-term vision.

The long-term outlook is built around Case for Action alliances, which argue that convergence of trends provides an unprecedented opportunity for coordinated, coordinated progress towards the goal of universal digital identity. These trends include political consensus among United Nations members, the expansion of global ties, the advent of new technologies, and global calls for a new identity model.

– Political unity: in 2015, all countries of the United Nations committed themselves to a global commitment to ensure legal identity for all by 2030.
– Global connectivity: the proliferation of smart devices allows the use of new registration methods and ensures consistent interaction with credentials.
– New technologies: blockchain technology, for example, used with bitcoin, and in which Microsoft has invested in the creation of a decentralized id (DID), makes secure and verifiable technology available to the masses.
– New identification model: consumers want a seamless and secure digital experience.

Microsoft, in a recent announcement regarding the use of blockchain technology for decentralized identification, further stated its support for this initiative, saying: “Each of us needs the digital identity that we own, which securely and confidentially stores all the elements of our digital identity.”

Microsoft, blockchain and universal identifiers

In a statement confirming its position as a founding member of the ID2020 alliance, Microsoft shared that it, the developers and partners in the Alliance will cooperate on the basis of blockchain, an open source identification system. This system will ensure the compatibility of people, applications, products and services between cloud providers, other blockchains and organizations.

Microsoft’s goal is to help set universal and scalable standards for these decentralized digital identities using blockchain technology. In the blockchain, information exists as a common database that is consistently consistent. Blockchain data does not exist in a centralized location, but is located on millions of computers across the Internet. The Alliance uses this secure and virtually “elusive” system to create a decentralized system for identifying the world’s population.

If blockchains sound familiar, they should be. Wallet apps, such as those used to buy things with popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, are the user interface that most people associate with blockchain technology. This technology has secure identity management at its core. It is on this technology that Microsoft and the Alliance are developing applications for global identity management.

It’s about the global community and the economy

Mobile technology is becoming an increasingly important tool for confirming your identity in various transaction scenarios, including buying and selling goods online or in person, using public transport, opening hotel room doors, participating in amusement parks and much more. Our smartphones are currently the main portal, intricately intertwining our digital identity with our physical world. Recognizing this, GSMA, an alliance of nearly 800 mobile operators, seeks to simplify SIM registration by encouraging flexible approaches to identity verification requirements for IDPs so that they can access mobile, SIM-based energy services and wallets .

This inclusion of even those who are deprived of suffrage in the digital landscape is of utmost importance for the ID2020 Alliances to provide a universally accepted identification system for everyone on the planet. It is important to note that the purpose of this identification system is to create the basis for integrating the participation of world citizens in the global community and the universal digital economy. A robust and verifiable identity, like any digital transaction, is fundamental to this vision.

Obvious concerns

The Alliance emphasizes that digital identity is the cornerstone of international development, and believes that digital identity should be with a person from birth to death. This goal, pursued by global cooperation, raises many ethical issues.

As the digital landscape is becoming more common, the boundaries between the physical and the real world continue to blur. If the lack of digital identity within the current paradigm limits participation in the modern economy, then the absence of such a single global globally recognized system can completely impede participation.

If the goal of the alliance is a globally recognized Digital Identity for everyone from birth to death, will this become a global mandate?

How will this be implemented and by whom?

What will happen to those people who do not want to participate?

Will they be chased?

How will the implementation of identification develop with technologies that go beyond smartphones?

Will there be wearable devices, implants like the ones used in the Swedish metro, or will some form of digital tattoo become the norm?

As more and more transactions become digital and are built around a single global identity standard supported by Microsoft, the question of who will manage this evolving global community and economy becomes relevant.

Moreover, non-participants in this system will not be able to buy or sell goods or services.



Havana Syndrome again? CIA officers are mowed down by a mysterious disease

A CIA officer in Moscow experienced symptoms of the so-called “Havana syndrome” in 2017. This became known to The New York Times with reference to sources in diplomatic circles.

CIA officer Mark Polimepulos, who helped lead covert operations in Russia and Europe, complained about the manifestation of mysterious symptoms. According to the newspaper, in December 2017, he felt severe dizziness, which later developed into a prolonged migraine, forcing him to retire. At that time, Polymerpoulos was 48 years old.

It is noted that such a case was not the only one. Similar symptoms were experienced by the staff of the American ambassadors in Cuba and China in 2016-2018. However, the exact number of cases and the place where this happened is not named. It is alleged that the US diplomats have tried to influence in a similar way around the world.

At the same time, the US State Department was unable to establish an unambiguous reason that caused the “Havana syndrome.” Among other things, it was assumed that the diplomats may have been exposed to an unidentified sound effect.

In 2017, it was reported that, beginning in late 2016, American diplomatic officials and their relatives in Cuba began to complain of symptoms such as hearing loss, nausea, headaches and balance disorder. 

The Associated Press received audio footage of the attack and described the harassing sounds as “the high-pitched sound of crickets combined with fingernails scratching on a board.” Then the American government suggested that Russia or China could be the culprit.

Many victims are still undergoing rehabilitation. Specialists from the University of Pennsylvania performed magnetic resonance imaging and revealed visible changes in the structure of the brain in the diplomatic missions.

Differences were found in 23 men and 17 women who complained of health problems while on diplomatic duties in Havana. Scientists have yet to figure out what causes the unusual symptoms.

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How Russia and the United States nearly started a nuclear war in 1995

The Norwegian meteorological rocket incident remains the only time in history that the Russian president has activated his nuclear briefcase.

On January 25, 1995, Doomsday could have come in the world: the Russian Federation was preparing to launch a nuclear strike on the United States. How did it come about that the states that left the confrontation of the Cold War in the past and had just normalized relations with each other found themselves on the verge of mutual destruction?

The beginning of the war?

The cause of the crisis was an ordinary Norwegian meteorological rocket. Its launch from the small island of Anneia at 7 am local time (10 am Moscow time) towards Spitsbergen caused a stir in Russia. 

Black Brant XII.

Black Brant XII. Legion Media / ZUMA Press

Equipped with scientific equipment to study the aurora borealis, the Black Brant XII was similar in size to the nuclear-powered American Trident D-5 ballistic missile, intended for launch from submarines. In addition, it flew along a trajectory along which, as the Russian Defense Ministry believed, American missiles would fly in the event of a nuclear war. 

In December 1994, Norway informed 28 states, including Russia, about the planned launch, but did not give a specific date, limiting itself to specifying the period: from January 15 to February 10 of the next year. Due to bureaucratic delays, this information did not reach the Russian Missile Warning System, which sounded the alarm.

Decisive minutes

An emergency meeting with the country’s top political and military leadership was convened in the Kremlin. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov and President of the Russian Federation (as Supreme Commander-in-Chief) Boris Yeltsin had three strategic missile forces control terminals activated – the so-called nuclear suitcases.

Vladimir Sayapin / TASS

The military believed the lone missile could have been fired to create an electromagnetic pulse that knocked out Russian radars and communications systems. Following it, a massive blow could be expected.

For several tense minutes, as leaders watched it flight, it was decided whether Russia would launch a nuclear strike against the United States. 

“Little is known today about what Yeltsin said at the time, given that it could have been some of the most dangerous moments in the entire history of the nuclear era,” The Washington Post journalist, David Hoffman wrote three years after the incident : “They make it clear that the Cold War nuclear readiness system continues to operate, and how catastrophic its consequences could be, despite the fact that the feud between the great powers is already over.”   

The situation was discharged only when it became clear that the rocket had gone towards Spitsbergen (not far from which it fell into the ocean). The nuclear cases have been deactivated. Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right).

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right). Igor Mikhalev / Sputnik

The incident with bringing Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces to combat readiness, soon became the property of the world community. When, four years later, the Norwegians were about to repeat their launch of Black Brant XII and reported this to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the US additionally warned all key Russian military departments about it through their channels. As a result, this time there were no unpleasant surprises. 


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Germany conducted exercises in case of nuclear war

Bundeswehr / Birthe Brechters

The Bundeswehr with partners in the North Atlantic Alliance ( NATO) trained in operations in a nuclear war.

The German army, together with Italian, Belgian and Dutch colleagues, conducted exercises in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

The location of the exercise “Steadfest Noon” was chosen airbase “Nörfenich”, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 31 “Boelcke” is located. Together with the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr, the air forces of other NATO countries, in particular, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, took part in the exercises.

According to a report by Bild, the exercise scenario involved training procedures for safely removing nuclear weapons from storage, delivering ammunition and installing them on aircraft. The training flights took place without nuclear weapons, and in parallel with the aviation exercises at the Büchel airbase, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 51 Immelman is located, the Resilient Guard air defense systems were trained to protect the airfield from air attacks.

The training sites for the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr were not chosen by chance, since the Nörfenich airbase is a reserve storage site for the B61, a hydrogen bomb that forms the basis of nuclear weapons of the US strategic nuclear forces. 

Some of this ammunition is stationed at NATO bases in Europe. The exact number of hydrogen bombs that are stored at European sites and which ones are not reported. In Europe, the B61 is carried by Panavia Tornado fighter-bombers (pictured) and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

Recall that the B61 thermonuclear bomb is the main weapon of the US strategic nuclear forces, although it entered service in 1968. Since 2012, a new guided version of the B61-12 has been under development, which will replace all B61 and B83 bombs that have been in service since 1983. It can be used both on strategic bombers and tactical aircraft. About two billion dollars were spent on the development of the 12th modification of the aerial bomb.

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