Digital identity is key – TechInkers
With the adoption of Web3 and its applications, everyone’s digital identity will become more and more important. The plastic identity card will soon be obsolete;
On a Tuesday afternoon, you are about to take the train home when you find that your connection is 10 minutes late. You sit on a bench, pick up your phone, open the dating app and start scrolling. Left, left, right… “It’s a match! “.
Oh! You are pleasantly surprised and trembling with anticipation, curious to find out more about this amazing girl who has also crawled right. Send him a short message to start the conversation. A few minutes later you know that she is single (logical, right?), Blonde, she is 25 and that she lives in Cricklewood, a nice part of London. Plus, she’s a true Rolling Stones fan.
The days go by and all kinds of topics are discussed: food, music, travel, trips. To share your experiences, discoveries and good addresses, send them your Spotify playlist, your TripAdvisor reviews, your Airbnb addresses, etc. Your digital ecosystems and universes are merging.
You are excited about this romantic encounter, but you haven’t seen each other in real life yet. You only know his “virtual identity” or his “Internet aliases” and you know little more. Could he be a usurper? From a scammer? What’s his real name?
You start checking the internet and wondering if you should call her Lilly Green. Or LillyGPretty, like on Instagram? Or Wildflower952, as Spotify says? Or Lilian Elisabeth Green, as in her LindedIn profile of her? What is her real name and how are everyone else in the real world?
Hundreds of questions cross your mind and you start wondering why so many identities for the same person. Is there even one that’s real?
As David Birch writes in his book Identity is the New Money, “in a postmodern world it is no longer clear whether this or that identity is ‘real’. All the identities we exchange are virtual, and if these virtual identities are clearly related to our everyday identities, they shouldn’t be confused. None of them are “real”.
And David Birch to explain that your identity is “a pseudonym on a network, enriched by social networks”. The concept is not simple. We can have many different identities that overlap and form an essential aspect of our individuality. They are all different but they all refer to the same person and each can be used to identify a person to some degree.
More and more websites are giving access to their portal or services through a Google or Facebook account. Nothing new, nothing special: it’s just a basic service that everyone expects to see these days.
Your username may not match your Social Security account. But because you have passed some form of (basic) identity verification via a third party (which confirms that you are not a robot), you can use this username in other situations as well.
Let’s say you want to open a bank account, take out a mortgage, or rent an apartment. Can you use your Facebook account for these procedures? Obviously, and fortunately, this is not possible.
These procedures require a stronger ID. This is where Trusted Third Parties or “TTPs” (Trusted Third Parties) come into play. These entities facilitate the interaction between two parties who trust them. They review all critical transactional communications between parties, taking into account the ease with which fraudulent digital content can be created. In these models, relying parties rely on this trust to protect their interactions.
These entities then carry out a thorough identity check, based on strict validation rules, to ensure that your digital identity is unique and matches the data on your identity card, passport or driver’s license.
This type of digital identity (issued by a TTP) increases your trustworthiness on the internet, as an independent third party verifies that you are who you say you are. Unfortunately, this identity does not yet open the doors to all applications or services. Any portal, supplier or seller, in fact, will want to guarantee the legitimacy of your identity before letting you in, protect themselves and know who they are talking to or with whom they communicate.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “The power of trust is only with the weakest link.” Trust can therefore only be built up to a certain point.
To optimize the user experience and simplify access, more and more companies and administrations are using federated identities. These link a user’s identity across different identity management systems to facilitate and secure access to different applications. It is slowly but surely moving in the right direction. However, the situation is far from perfect, and given the growing number of cyber attacks, I expect more delays and growing problems, not to mention quantum computing, right!
We would like to see effective access control, but there are still too many obstacles and difficulties for such a process to combine transparency and usability. For now, let’s wait for the small wins. Not all citizens and users are lucky enough to have an ultra-digitized network or cannot necessarily prove who they really are.
With the adoption of Web3 and its applications (blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFT to name a few), the digital identity of every user, person or citizen will become increasingly important. The plastic ID card kept at the bottom of our wallets will soon be obsolete.
Today, and certainly in the future, your digital “identity” will define who you are, what you own (digitally) and what your social chart will look like. Your fingerprint and data determine what you can bet on and what you can become.
Indeed, as David Birch states, it can become the key to your exchanges and an essential individual resource. We must therefore ensure that these identities are managed by responsible organizations.
Anonymity on the Internet or in the digital world has become a dream in the air. An illusory dream of freedom and privacy, impossible to achieve. Some even argue that it might not be harmful not to reveal information about you.
In this digital world, when you need to be known and visible, make sure you take the right steps to demonstrate who you are and know who you are dealing with.