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Digital Identity Summit—Who Are You? Who who, who who?

I had the pleasure to speak at the Digital Identity Summit hosted by ThreatMetrix last week in Los Angeles, California. There were a number of great sessions representing banking/financial services, e-commerce, payment service providers (PSPs), and other service providers. It was really interesting to observe similar use cases being applied to very different businesses with similar challenges.

The most interesting thing, though, was the general sentiment that the concept of “identity” is changing, and changing rapidly. In the past, the notion of “identity” has rested around government-issued documents such as passports, driving licenses, and tax IDs. These are no longer adequate or convenient. Merchants and financial institutions have needed to look at other types of data to form a more holistic picture of someone’s “identity.”

Today, we have a new need to view the concept of “identity” very differently than in the past. We now need to include digital aspects such as LinkedIn and Facebook. We need to include behavior patterns within and across devices. We have the computing power to know us better than we know ourselves—and we are constantly creating and re-creating our identities. If you don’t think your “identity” migrates over time, just have a kid, and with no explicit work of your own, the adverts you will see change dramatically.

This highlights two key issues:

  • The concept of identity needs to change; it is much bigger than it used to be. There are many good effects of this but also some challenges.
  • Consumers and businesses need to have some control over what parts of their identity are shared, in what context, and in what time frame. This is a shift to put control of identity into the users’ hands rather than that of third parties.

There is a lot left to learn and explore in the identity space, and it is changing fast. Have a look at my recent report on biometrics for more on identity proofing and binding. Stay tuned for more on this space; “times they are a’changing.”

Here are a few comments from me in this interview.