Digital Identity Management
Scott C. Lemon, Exploring Identity in the Internet Age


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Thursday, December 02, 2004

I am getting the idea of where Kim is going with the Second Law ... I think. I and I agree completely. The solution that is going to dominate is the one the consumer perceives as providing the most control over, and awareness of , their identity information. Ok ... I added the "awareness of" part. It's to address one of the questions that Kim had in a later post. I'll get to it. I wanted to explore a new angle of this part of Kim's post:

A solution in which the polycomm has to query my mobile phone for a social security number would be much less stable than one which required the polycomm to query only for the address of an mp3 service.

This makes me think about a lot of questions ... and I want to explore this in an orthogonal direction. I'm more thinking about the "identity transactions" that are taking place. This actually leads into my Third Axiom in which all identity is exchanged within "verified" or "unverified" contexts. Of course it could also be an "asymmetric" context in which on one party verifies the identity of the other.

In this scenario, there are two digital devices that are wirelessly communicating and exchanging information. In many scenarios like this ... the two devices might just trust each others "unverified identities" and offer services or consume services. We live our lives using and accepting a lot of "unverified identity" information, however there are many scenarios in our lives where "verified identity" is required.

When I walk into a bar, for example, the bartender is no longer as likely to "take my word for it". He or she instead wants me to provide some credentials from a mutually acceptable community that we both belong to. I could provide a drivers license, a passport, a military ID, or maybe even my little digital device, that refers the bartenders little digital device to contact some webservice that exists at a commonly known namespace.

Of course, it could be that my little digital device contacts the web service first, indicating that the bartender is going to be requesting to verify my identity information in a moment. I get a "ticket" back from the web service that I give to the bartender that allows the bartender to only make that verification request ... and only within a certain amount of time. The request might be to verify my age, in years ... or better yet that I am simply "older than the legal drinking age". (This is something that I thought of when reading Dick Hardt's post the other day.) These are all details that the bartender and I have to agree upon ... or have cool little digital devices that store our identity and preferences and accelerate the negotiation. (No Kim ... not completely automate ... unless I'm comfortable with that ... ;-)

All of these transactions support the idea that identity comes from communities. The more important or valuable the transaction, the more it will require verification ... from an authoritative source. That source will be the community that gave that identity to us, or one that has a trusted relationship with the community that did.

Casual interactions between cell phones and polycomms ... can use unverified identity. And every now and then you might hear some very disturbing sounds or music coming from a polycomm! ;-)

9:23:51 PM      

Speaking of cell phones ... the last couple of days I spent some time to hack around in Radio Userland.  I enabled the e-mail-to-weblog feature, and fixed a bug in their parsing ... and I now can blog (to my other web log) from my Nokia cell phone!

Fun stuff ... now to modify Radio to allow me to specify the blog I want to post to, and I want to get pictures working ...

8:39:00 PM      

I've been working on too many fun projects lately.  I'm involved in a start-up in the Cell/PDA marketplace, I'm working on embedded Linux applications for 802.11a/b/g access points, and have been experimenting with a variety of e-commerce applications.  And now I'm also captivated by the identity management conversation that has come up.  I'm going to post a little tonight ... I like a lot of what I'm hearing ...

Too little time ... too many fun things to play with!

8:32:28 PM      

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