World Bank launches data privacy innovation challenge


The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative has launched the Mission Billion Challenge, which is aimed at innovators helping to make the “invisible billion” – the number of people globally who still cannot prove who they are – visible.

The Mission Billion Challenge will crowdsource innovative solutions to strengthen data privacy in digital identification systems and empower users to have greater control of their personal data.

It offers cash prizes totalling US$100,000, with the top prize of US$50,000 for the most promising solutions that enhance trust and protect personal data from being misused or compromised.

“Digital identification systems can play a transformational role across key areas such as financial inclusion, access to services and social safety nets, and effective humanitarian response. Yet this can also create important privacy challenges,” said Makhtar Diop, vice president for infrastructure at the World Bank.

“The Mission Billion Challenge offers an exciting opportunity to tap into the most creative minds to help us design digital identification systems to enhance data protection and empower people with greater control over their personal data.”

The challenge seeks new, practical ideas for ‘privacy by design’ features that can be embedded into digital identification systems to address the potential risks that arise from collecting, using and managing personal data such as data protection and cybersecurity challenges.  

It is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Government, and Omidyar Network, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Mission Billion will be powered by the MIT Solve platform, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that uses open innovation and crowdsourcing to solve global challenges.

“MIT’s mission inspires us to use our strengths in education, research and innovation to make a better world, and the World Bank Group’s Mission Billion Challenge represents an extraordinary opportunity for us to help advance work of significant global importance,” said MIT president, L. Rafael Reif.

“In designing the MIT Solve platform, we aimed to create a global community of problem solvers: creative minds focused together on tackling intractable challenges. So we are excited for the opportunity to work with the World Bank Group’s ID4D Initiative to focus that community on ways to provide people in poverty with sound, affordable identification – a basic tool for advancing themselves and participating in modern society.”
Interested parties should apply here by February 24, 2019.


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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