The time is now…

41mTdWYvhaL__SY300_I have had a number of conversations, leading into often intense arguments, about just what is digital identity. I’m at the stage now where I’m not even sure that question is relevant or helpful.

No one seems to have established what an identity is. OK, we can try and map the idea back to our real world identity, setting out common criteria such as recognisable ‘credentials’ and identifying ‘claims’ or ‘attributes’. But in the end, does any of this really get us what we want? Have we actually established…’what we want’?

I often wonder if using the term ‘identity’ has thrown a red herring into the mix. It’s not really about identity as we normally express it, or rather how we are used to expressing it – which, lets face it is something we hardly even think about in any detail. It’s more about how do we get what we want, online, quickly and with as little fuss as possible. This is currently dictated by the parties we are trying to get that ‘stuff’ from.

What we currently have is a messy, complicated, insecure, highly irritating, nebulous mix of methods, of identifying yourself online. If I have to setup another account, with yet another password, based on yet another set of, fatally flawed, password policies, I think I’ll end up screaming.

This situation cannot continue. It’s at best incredibly irritating but mainly it is highly insecure and very efficient. And more importantly, it does not have to be this way.

What I am about to say is not new, it has been said by the great and good of this vanguard for years. But I will reiterate it anyway, because maybe the time is now.

We need to establish a coherent, interoperable identity system for the web: By this I don’t mean one god-like identity system, it could be many variants. There are a number of working groups heading towards this, but this is not just about technology this is about much more, this is about humanity and expectations and needs and most importantly, working together towards a common goal. The goal is a connected internet. One that recognises the myriad of ‘identities’ that we, as the human who ultimately own our ‘identity’ decide to keep under our control (more on that in later posts).

Technology, including identity technology, needs to become more human. It is after all, our way of embracing communities and spaces that are really just an extension of ourselves.

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