Identity – there is much to gain from getting it right

By March 30, 2007Blogging, Identity

In response to the nightmare Kathy Sierra has been enduring, JP posted about how getting identity right would go a long way to preventing a recurrence of what she faced.  Couldn’t agree more.

I have been thinking about how this tragedy might have played out before the internet.  It would have been much simpler then – the attacks might have been on leaflets and the police would have had an easier time finding the perpetrators.  The web makes it too easy to hide, and that is a risk for all of us, and especially for our children.

Getting identity right, in the sense of being able to know for sure who people are would make the web a much safer place.  It would also make it a much richer place with improved trust all round and better targeting of products and services.

Loss of anonymity and increased fear of big brother watching everything we do on line seems a small price to pay for that.

  • Nic, I can completely understand your feeling. The whole affair, on both sides, has been most disturbing. However, in terms of a technological solution, even if we were willing to give up all pseudonimity (let alone anonymity) as a society—and it’s a huge if—the problem of reliable attribution of information to individuals could well still remain: intrinsic limitations in biometric and security technologies make it very unlikely that we will ever be able to tie the physical and virtual spheres of identity together with complete reliability.

    In fact, the closer we get to the unattainable goal of absolute identity assurance, the higher the prize for troll hackers who manage to break a system that is popularly assumed to purvey “true” identity information.

    Identity turns out to be a Pandora’s Box when you open the lid…

  • Nic, I can completely understand your feeling. The whole affair, on both sides, has been most disturbing. However, in terms of a technological solution, even if we were willing to give up all pseudonimity (let alone anonymity) as a society—and it’s a huge if—the problem of reliable attribution of information to individuals could well still remain: intrinsic limitations in biometric and security technologies make it very unlikely that we will ever be able to tie the physical and virtual spheres of identity together with complete reliability.

    In fact, the closer we get to the unattainable goal of absolute identity assurance, the higher the prize for troll hackers who manage to break a system that is popularly assumed to purvey “true” identity information.

    Identity turns out to be a Pandora’s Box when you open the lid…