Book Review: Digital Identity, Virtual Borders and Social Media: A Panacea for Migration Governance? by Emre Eren Korkmaz.

AuthorMahmud, Athir
PositionArticle 7

Korkmaz, Emre Eren (Ed.). Digital Identity, Virtual Borders and Social Media: A Panacea for Migration Governance?. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021. viii + 152 pages. Hardcover, $109.00

In Digital Identity, Virtual Borders and Social Media: A Panacea for Migration Governance?, political scientist Emre Eren Korkmaz assembles an impressive group of contributors who explore these modern, digital tools as being highly beneficial for migrants, using numerous methods, and in various parts of the world. These technologies are pivotal in empowering migrants to tend to their basic needs, learn their rights, gain knowledge about personal safety.

The model of digital identity secured to blockchain technology is innovative as it could allow for access to governmental services, humanitarian aid, and access to personal safety without the need for a centralized entity, such as a particular government, which has traditionally assigned paper identification. Forced migration can already be traumatic and harrowing by its very nature, so the need for a self-sovereign identity, or SSI can potentially solve many of the issues migrants face when attempting to secure identification. One example is The Rohingya Project (TRP), which seeks to provide all members of the Rohingya ethnicity in Bangladesh with digital identities.

Two different forms of digital identification for refugees, are explored as examples, punctuated by nearly a century. Brought to fruition in 1921, the Nansen Passport attempted to offer refugees of the Russian Civil War a way in which they could cross borders. The Blockchain Pilot Project was introduced in May 2018 to assist individuals in Kenya severely affected by droughts. Both sought to provide identification beyond the "nation-state system," in the same manner as other forms of digital identity.

Social media can be very helpful for migrants for several reasons. Migrants may use social media to plan their journeys and determine their futures as they resettle, as well as use it to provide information about the safety of their journeys to their family members who await reassurance of their passage. Social media also provides network capital and social support to many migrants. Since many migrants rely on smugglers to secure access to unknown territories, social media can provide information for both migrants and smugglers alike.

However, despite the optimistic approach to digital identities there are countless potential...

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