The Identity Spectrum

I published V1 of this in a post on my Fast Company blog about the government’s experiments with identity.
I did a more complete version for the opening talk of the Internet Identity Workshop

The Identity Spectrum gives a understanding of the different kinds of identity that are possible in digital systems. They are not exculsive – you can mix and match. I will define the terms below and discuss mixing and matching below.

Anonymous Identity is on one end of the identity spectrum–basically you use an account or identifier every time go to a Web site–no persistence, no way to connect the search you did last week with the one you did this week.

Pseudonymous Identity is where over time you use the same account or identifier over and over again at a site. It usually means you don’t reveal your common/real name or other information that would make you personally identifiable. You could use the same identifier at multiple sites thus creating a correlation between actions on one site and another.

Self-Asserted Identity is what is typical on the Web today. You are asked to share your name, date of birth, city of residence, mailing address etc. You fill in forms again and again. You can give “fake” information or true information about yourself–it is up to you.

Socially Validated Identity is an identifier within the context of a social graph that is linked to and because of the social links it is acknowledged by others thus being socially validated

Verified Identity is when there are claims about you that you have had verified by a third party. So for example if you are an employee of a company your employer could issue a claim that you were indeed an employee. You might have your bank verify for your address. etc.

Mixing and Matching on the Identity Spectrum
You could have a socially verified pseudonymous identity. That is people recognize and acknowledge a pseudonymous handle/avatar name by linking to it in a social graph. You can have verified anonymity where attributes about a handle/avatar are ‘verified’ but the all the information about the verified identity (full name, address, birthdate etc) is not reviled.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been browsing online greater than 3 hours today, but I never discovered any fascinating article like yours. It’s beautiful value sufficient for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the web shall be much more helpful than ever before.

  2. says

    Hello There. I discovered your blog using msn. This is a very neatly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.

Trackbacks

  1. Why is it more common for US based web services to require users to use their real names?…

    Agree with Jamey Harvey that it is an artifact of Facebook origins; it has also been tolerated because American users are not pushed towards pseudonymity or anonymity to avoid social or government pressure as much as in Japan or China, and also because…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *