Unlock the power of digital ethics to build and maintain trust in digital identity adoption


Written by Jen Rodvold, Head of Ethics & Sustainability Consulting and, Richard Thompson, Consulting Manager, Digital Identity, Sopra Steria

In today’s digital era, establishing trust online is of utmost importance as individuals increasingly interact with organisations through digital channels. When considering identity, we often think of the usernames and passwords which characterise our interactions today. We create unique representations of ourselves to access services or purchase products, and the process is often repeated for each unique interaction to prove who we are. 

We’re heading towards a future where we can verify ourselves, and manage our own single, trusted digital identity. This has the potential to establish trust between citizens and organisations in real time with ease. This is why identity is referred to as the missing layer of the internet, and the potential to deliver this missing layer is an exciting prospect. In a recent survey we conducted of 100 technology decision makers, 85% of respondents agreed with this feeling and said that user-centric ecosystems that enable a user to create, manage and share their own identity is part of the evolution of trusted digital services. 

Digital identity services play a pivotal role in redefining services, streamlining processes, and unlocking economic value, and for most it isn’t a new concept. But in many organisations, a single corporate digital identity that contains both trusted and verifiable credentials about individuals and entities feels a long way off. 

The rapid growth in digital identity adoption has raised critical questions about data privacy, security and ethics. The adoption of digital ethics is fundamental to enabling organisations to make the next step towards a truly connected future, by building trust and increasing and sustaining high levels of adoption of digital identity services.


Digital ethics

Digital ethics is seen as the moral compass that guides our actions and decisions in the digital world, acting as a continual process of identifying, prioritising and managing the risks and opportunities that technology and data use pose to people, society and the environment.

Adopting an ethics-by-design approach towards digital services is one of the most important ways organisations can lead the way. Ethics-by-design creates a way to develop technology that is fundamentally ethical. It involves breaking down the design process into its separate stages and requires us to understand users’ values, beliefs and expectations with a regard to data use, technology, and what improves or reduces trust. A myriad of standards for responsible data use and trustworthy technology have emerged over the last decade, and now provide largely consistent digital ethics principles. 

Sopra Steria describes these principles in our digital ethics categories:

  • Transparency
  • Fairness, Equality, Diversity & Accessibility
  • Privacy
  • Safety
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Displacement, Skills & Work
  • Societal Impact


The role of digital ethics in digital identity adoption

The desire for adoption of digital identity across all sectors of the economy brings forth a critical need for robust digital ethics practices:

  • Privacy and consent – digital ethics helps to design user interactions in ways that allow users to choose how, why and where their digital identity and related attributes are used, with transparent mechanisms of consent and the right for their data to be forgotten if requested. This will build confidence and trust that the data attributes that they shared are held and used in a way which preserves their privacy. This means only necessary data is collected, and where possible leveraging existing data sources to avoid duplication of data. 
  • Transparency – focusing on transparency ensures that services are built in a way that allows users to understand how, why and when their data is used, and how the digital identity service works for them, thereby reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and issues, and subsequent negative impact on trust.
  • Accessibility and inclusion – leveraging best practice in digital ethics entails designing digital services in ways that align to the values, beliefs and expectations of their users. Therefore, ensuring that users can successfully access the service regardless of any physical impairments or neurodiversity requirements, making them more confident in adopting the solution.

A well-designed, successfully implemented digital ethics programme will address the requirements of any regulations and guidance in ways that governance, policies and controls alone cannot. 



Digital identity adoption is rapidly transforming the way individuals interact with technology and access services online. By embracing digital ethics, organisations can pave the way for the widespread acceptance and successful implementation of digital identity services, fostering trust between individuals, organisations, and technology.

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