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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keys to the Kingdom

Recently I read a piece on gigaom


Good article but a better question should be "Is there a verified Digital ID and does one own it"?

IMO, we should promote the creation of Federated Identity houses, that tie back to a verified ID. A Verified ID can be:

1. A user's enterprise credentials

2. An in-person verification of a person against a real world ID and the issuance of a digitalID.

3. Tie in to government issued DID (Digital ID), like has already happened in Germany.

4. A reputation based Identity as is used on systems like ebay.

Where we should take a leadership role is to create value and technology that balances the concepts of Identity, anonymity, privacy and responsibility.

With the recent news we have already seen that there is no concept of Digital Identity as a basic right. In the case of wikileaks DNS providers were able to shutdown routing to servers. As a contrast, the post office does not shut down mail delivery to my physical address, no matter how much wrong I do.

Court orders have been used to take away a persons google email account and ID, and order it shut down.

Since all Digital ID providers are private companies, they can choose to dictate terms to individual consumers as they see fit. They own all data on their networks, including the person's digital persona and digital identity. One can argue that the same is true for physical government issued IDs, which can also be revoked. In my opinion, the difference is that a revocation of a government ID, while making life very difficult, does not affect that person's existence in the physical world. However, the lack of a digital ID in todays ever connected environment makes a person cease to exist in the digital world. Do we want to give that sort of control to private enterprises that are subject to the whims of financial markets, and boards of directors. In the real world the government is accountable to the people, at least in principle, it should be.

Bottom line, I think it is very important to establish systems that allow for individual consumers to create and manage digital identities; give the consumer control to share specific or all aspects of a particular online persona as needed.

We should create systems that allow for such sharing without giving away the keys to the kingdom.

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