With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations this month launched its "50-in-5" campaign to promote and accelerate the development of a global digital public infrastructure
. One critic called the campaign "a totalitarian nightmare" designed to "onboard" small countries with "digital ID, digital wallets, digital lawmaking, digital voting and more."
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations (U.N.) this month launched an "ambitious-country-led campaign
" to promote and accelerate the development of a global digital public infrastructure (DPI).
The United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) said its "50-in-5
" campaign will spur the construction of "an underlying network of components" that includes "digital payments, ID, and data exchange system," which will serve as "a critical accelerator of the Sustainable Development Goals
"The goal of the campaign is for 50 countries to have designed, implemented, and scaled at least one DPI component in a safe, inclusive, and interoperable manner in five years," the UNDP stated.
Critics of the campaign include Tim Hinchliffe
, editor of The Sociable, who told The Defender he believes DPI "is a mechanism for surveillance and control that combines digital ID, central bank digital currencies [CBDC], vaccine passports and carbon footprint tracking data, paving the way for 15-minute smart cities, future lockdowns and systems of social credit."
The UNDP is leading the "50-in-5" campaign along with the Center for Digital Public Infrastructure
, the Digital Public Goods Alliance
. Supporters include GovStack
, the Inter-American Development Bank
and UNICEF, in addition to the Gates Foundation
In September 2022, the Gates Foundation allocated $200 million
"to expand global Digital Public Infrastructure," as part of a broader plan to fund $1.27 billion in "health and development commitments" toward the goal of achieving the SDGs by 2030.
The Gates Foundation stated at the time that the funding was intended to promote the expansion of "infrastructure that low- and middle-income countries can use to become more resilient to crises such as food shortages, public health threats, and climate change, as well as to aid in pandemic and economic recovery."
California-based privacy attorney Greg Glaser
described the "50-in-5" campaign as "a totalitarian nightmare" and a "dystopian" initiative targeting small countries "to onboard them with digital ID, digital wallets, digital lawmaking, digital voting and more." "For political reasons, U.N. types like Gates cannot openly plan 'one world government,' so they use different phrases like 'global partnership' and 'Agenda 2030,'"
Glaser told The Defender. "People can add '50-in-5' to that growing list of dystopian phrases."
Another California-based privacy attorney, Richard Jaffe, expressed similar sentiments, telling The Defender the "50-in-5" initiative "point[s] to the much bigger issue of the globalization, centralization and digitalization of the world's personal data."
"My short-term concern is bad actors, and that would be individuals and small groups, as well as state mal-actors, who will now have a big fat new target or tool to threaten the normal operation of less technologically sophisticated countries," he said.
Jaffe said Gates' involvement "scares the hell out of him." Derrick Broze
, editor-in-chief of The Conscious Resistance Network
, told The Defender that it is "another sign that this renewed push for digital ID infrastructure will not benefit the average person."
"Projects like these only benefit governments who want to track their populations, and corporations who want to study our daily habits and movements to sell us products," Broze said. Initiatives to promote DPI globally also enjoy the support of the G20.
According to The Economist, at September's G20 Summit in New Delhi
— held under the slogan "One Earth, One Family, One Future" — India garnered support from the Gates Foundation, UNDP and the World Bank
for a plan to develop a global repository of DPI technologies.'World doesn't need 50-in-5'
The 11 "First-Mover" countries
launching "50-in-5" are Bangladesh, Estonia
, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Moldova, Norway, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Togo.
"Countries, regardless of income level, geography, or where they are in their digital transformation journey, can benefit from being part of 50-in-5," the campaign states, adding that "with steadfast and collective efforts, the world can build a future where digital transformation is not only a vision but a tangible reality."
According to Glaser, the 11 initial countries were chosen not because they are "digital leaders" but because the U.N. sees smaller nations as a "unique threat" because their leaders are occasionally accountable to the people.
"We have seen what happens to leaders of small nations who reject international intelligence agencies' favorite products, such as COVID-19
vaccines, GMOs [genetically modified organisms] and petrodollars," Glaser said. "U.N. programs like '50-in-5' are a way for smaller countries to sell out early to Big Tech
and preemptively avoid 'economic hitmen
,'" he added.
Speaking at the "50-in-5" launch event, Dumitru Alaiba, Moldova's deputy prime minister and minister of Economic Development and Digitalization said, "The source of our biggest excitement is our work on our government's super app. It's modeled after the very successful Ukrainian Diia app
[and] will be launched in the coming few months."
At the same event, Cina Lawson, Togo's minister of Digital Economy and Transformation, said, "We created a digital COVID certificate. All of a sudden, the fight against the pandemic became really about using digital tools to be more effective."
According to Hinchliffe, Togo's DPI system
had seemingly benign origins, launching as a universal basic income
scheme for the country's citizens, "but shortly after that, they expanded the system to implement vaccine passports."
Togo's vaccine passport was interoperable with the European Union's (EU) digital health certificate. In 2021, the EU was one of the first governmental entities globally to introduce such passports
. In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the EU's digital health certificate standards
on a global basis.
Speaking at the G20 Summit in September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, "The trick is to build public digital infrastructure
that is interoperable, open to all and trusted," citing the EU's COVID-19 digital certificate as an example.
Four of the "First-Mover" countries are African. Shabnam Palesa Mohamed, executive director of Children's Health Defense (CHD) Africa Chapter
, told The Defender the "50-in-5" campaign will be used as a geo-political tool. "Africa is always a prime target
because it is comparatively untapped digitally," she said.
"Africa needs respect, food, water and peace," she said. "It does not need DPI."
Along similar lines, Hinchliffe said, "The world doesn't need '50-in-5.' The people never asked for it. It came from the top down. What the people want is for their governments to do their actual jobs — to serve the people."
A 2022 World Economic Forum
(WEF) report, "Advancing Digital Agency
: The Power of Data Intermediaries," said vaccine passports "serve as a form of digital identity."
In 2020, WEF founder Klaus Schwab said, "What the Fourth Industrial Revolution
will lead to is a fusion of our physical, our digital and our biological identities
."Digital ID intended to be 'securely accessed' by government, private stakeholders
According to The Economist
, India is heavily promoting
its digital ID technologies, first deployed domestically, for global implementation in "poor countries." These technologies have garnered support and funding from Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.
For instance, Lawson said Togo was issuing biometric digital ID "for all our citizens using MOSIP" — Modular Open Source Identity Platform
— a system developed at India's International Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore.
MOSIP, backed by the Gates Foundation, the World Bank and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, is modeled after Aadhaar
, India's national digital ID platform — the largest in the world — which has been beset by controversy.
Launched in 2009, Aadhaar enrolled over 99% of all Indian adults
, linking them with many public and private services
. But according to The Economist
, Aadhaar "suffers security breaches," and though it "was supposed to be optional, it is hard to function without it."Glaser said Aadhaar "has been a nightmare for Indians. It is constantly hacked, including, for example the largest personal information hack in world history earlier this month, with personal information sold on the dark web."
"Aadhaar is openly mocked in India," Glaser said. "The only reason it is still used by the citizenry is because people have no practical choice. To participate meaningfully in Indian society, you need the digital ID,"
Nevertheless, Gates has praised Aadhaar
— describing it on his blog as "a valuable platform for delivering social welfare programs and other government services." In October 2021, the Gates Foundation issued a $350,690 grant
for the rollout of India's Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission
, a digital health ID
system linked with Aadhaar
A Business 20 (B20) communique
issued following this year's G20 summit called on "G20 nations to develop guidelines for unique single digital identification ... that can be securely accessed (based on consent) by different government and private stakeholders for identity verification and information access within three years."
In April, Nandan Nilekani, former chair of the Unique Identification Authority of India
, told an International Monetary Fund panel on DPI
that digital ID, digital bank accounts and smartphones are the "tools of the new world." He added that if this is achieved, "Then, anything can be done. Everything else is built on that."
"The lesson of course for the rest of the world is to never let digital ID take root in your society," Glaser said. "Once a nation's consumer class adopts digital ID with global partners, as in India, it is basically checkmate for that nation."'When they say inclusive, they really mean exclusive'
According to The Sociable
, DPI "promises to bring about financial inclusion, convenience, improved healthcare, and green progress."
According to the "50-in-5" campaign, DPI "is essential for participation in markets and society in a digital era [and] is needed for all countries
to build resilient and innovative economies, and for the well-being of people."
But Hinchliffe refuted that assertion. "You don't need digital ID and digital governance to provide better services to more people," he said. "The tools are already available. It's about incentives. Businesses, governments, and private citizens all have the power to come up with better solutions now, but why don't we?"
Still, "inclusivity" is one of the key narratives employed to promote DPI. The "50-in-5" campaign states, "Countries building safe and inclusive DPI ... can foster strong economies and equitable societies" and that DPI "promotes innovation, bolsters local entrepreneurship, and ensures access to services and opportunities for underserved groups, including women and youth."
Experts who spoke with The Defender warned DPI has the potential to be exclusionary."While the United Nations, the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation promote DPI as necessary for an 'equitable' world, the reality is that these tools have the potential for furthering exclusion of political activists, whistleblowers, and other individuals who hold controversial opinions,"
Similarly, CHD Africa's Mohamed claimed, "People, groups and organizations that pose a threat to the establishment will be targeted for digital surveillance and socio-economic isolation" via DPI. "This ... is an easier way to control critical thinkers."
Hinchliffe said DPI will "accelerate technocratic control through digital ID, CBDC and massive data sharing, paving the way for an interoperable system of social credit."
Similarly, Glaser said, "With DPI, the U.N.'s plan is to issue everyone a social credit score in line with U.N. SDGs (Agenda 2030) ... Your digital ID will become the new you. And from the perspective of governments and corporations, your digital ID will be more real than your flesh ... required in various measures to travel, work, buy/sell, and vote."
"When they say inclusive, they really mean exclusive, because the system is set up to exclude people who don't go along with unelected globalist policies," Hinchliffe said. "What they really want is for everybody to be under their digital control."
Notably, a June 2023 WEF report titled "Reimagining Digital ID
" concedes that "Digital ID may weaken democracy and civil society" and that the "greatest risks arising from digital ID are exclusion, marginalization and oppression."
Making ID — digital or otherwise — mandatory may exacerbate "fundamental social, political and economic challenges as conditional access of any kind always creates the possibility of discrimination and exclusion," the report adds.
Experts who spoke with The Defender said people must be given the choice to opt out.
"If the U.N. and its member states push the digital ID agenda, they must ensure that their respective populations have a simple way to opt out without being punished or denied services," Bronze said. "Otherwise, the digital ID creep will eventually become mandatory to exist in society and we will see the end of privacy, and, in the long-term, liberty," Broze said.
Jaffe said that while he does not oppose digital payment systems, he "would be vehemently opposed to the elimination of non-digital payment, like fiat paper currency," calling this an issue of "freedom and privacy."
Similarly, Hinchliffe said, "There should be non-digital alternatives available at all times and this should be a right of every citizen. Systems can fail. Databases can be breached. Governments can become tyrannical. Corporations can become greedy."'The endgame is sovereignty by transhumanists'
Many of the initiatives that are backing "50-in-5" are themselves interlinked — in addition to their connections to entities such as the Gates Foundation.
For instance, the Omidyar Network, one of the supporters of "50-in-5," has provided funding to MOSIP
— as has the Gates Foundation.
The Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation
, the UNDP and UNICEF participate in the Digital Public Good Alliance's "roadmap
" of entities that "strengthen the DPG [digital public goods] ecosystem."
Earlier this year, Co-Develop invested
in the establishment of the Center for Digital Public Infrastructure, which is headquartered at the International Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore, and is also home to MOSIP. Co-Develop was co-founded
by the Rockefeller Foundation, along with the Gates Foundation and the Omidyar Network.
And "endorsing organizations" of the World Bank's "Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development" report include the Gates Foundation, the Omidyar Network, UNDP, Mastercard
and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Glaser said that Gates attained wealth by "monopolizing his operating system into every home and business worldwide" and "is doing the same now at the U.N. level with vaccines and DPI applications.""DPI platforms essentially outsource sovereignty to international governing bodies that do the bidding of financial entities like Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street,"
"Companies with that much information on citizens hold enormous power to sabotage infrastructure [with] very few ethics to stop them," Mohamed said. "The endgame is sovereignty by transhumanists,
" Glaser added. "The reason digital ID is an existential threat to society is because it separates people from their local governments, who have always worked cooperatively to prevent tyranny." "DPI is being sold to authorities on the grounds that it will include them in the worldwide economy, when in reality it will commodify their people and remove the ability of local authorities to ever govern meaningfully again,"
Hinchliffe also connected DPI to policies that purport to combat climate change.
"With G20 nations committing to net-zero
carbon emissions policies by around 2050 ... restrictions will be placed on what we can consume, what we can purchase, and where we can go thanks to the widespread implementation of digital ID and CBDC to track, trace, and control our every move in ... 15-minute smart cities," he said.
"They openly talk about using DPI for 'digital health certificates' ... and I believe that next will come carbon footprint tracking to monitor and control how you travel and what you consume," Hinchliffe added, calling it "a future of constant surveillance and control."
"If we can legislate and litigate to retain the right to traditional identification, then this categorically protects all of our rights," Glaser added. "As long as the consumer classes of large nations like the United States resist digital ID, there is hope."
"These schemes do little to nothing for the prosperity of the majority of Africans, but rather, they further the interests of a small economic and political class," Mohamed said. "With growing economic disparity and anger, the attempt to waste more African resources on digital ID may lead to widespread revolt."
"Generally, once Africans know what Bill Gates is about, they refuse to get involved in or support his activities," she added.Watch this Kitco News segment on the '50-in-5' campaign: