This paper examines refugees’ experiences with and perspectives on the digital identity systems used by humanitarian organizations to collect, manage, and share their personal data. Through a qualitative study with 198 refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Uganda, we show how existing humanitarian identity systems present numerous challenges for refugees. For example, we find that refugees have little to no knowledge of the institutional systems and processes through which their personal data are managed and used. In addition, refugees are typically not able to exercise agency with regard to data that are collected about them (e.g. given choices about the data collected). At the same time, we show how refugees make active efforts to negotiate the various identities available to them, consciously weighing the benefits and constraints associated with different statuses to maximize their access to services, eligibility for employment, and spatial mobility. We engage with Taylor’s lens of data justice to make sense of our findings and conclude by highlighting the potential of feminist science and technology study frameworks to further develop theories of data justice that can support analysis of identification systems that serve the interests of the most vulnerable.

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