I helped to develop the above documents with a number of smart capable people. You should feel free to affix blame for the bad parts to me and attribute the good parts to my colleagues. These writings should help readers understand a good deal of my thoughts on identity and ID management as a starting point for this conversation.
I have spent most of the last 5 or 6 years working on electronic Government/Commerce issues and implementations and a large part of that time spent has been focused on identity related work. There are many types of interactions and transactions for which the interacting parties might choose or prefer to be anonymous to each other or use pseudonymous identifiers. These types of interactions have not captured much of my attention or focus. My efforts have centered upon interactions in which, for good reasons or not, there existed a need to connect a virtual identity to a real world person or to express the identity of a real person in the virtual world. Generally, these interactions are those in which a real world person is known and an organization wants to interact electronically with that person or in which there is a requirement for trust between the parties to a transaction and/or that there is some significant value, privacy or security requirement to the transaction.
Throughout our history (and mostly metaphorically for us today) the difference between being dinner or diner depended upon our ability to read and decipher physical cues to behavior. There are a lot of hard-wired mechanisms in each of us that tie our trust of another to physical attributes we can perceive. Leaving aside for the moment whether those mechanisms function effectively or not, a lot of us reserve our trust for another to those from whom we can derive clues to their character from their physical person. Our social interaction and enforcement mechanisms are based on physical restraints and punishment. The virtual world disrupts those mechanisms. Additionally, I believe the anonymity of the virtual world has disabled some restraints that prevented most people from performing a variety of acts. Some of these acts result in an explosion of creativity and invention. Others lead to an explosion of mischief and crime.
A variety of reasons and excuses have led to a convergence of physical and virtual ID. As Director of Digital Government for the State of Iowa
1. REAlID done right = good
2. RealID done wrong = very bad
3. The bar is high for such a system to be good.
We aren't close yet!
There is a tremendous value to be had in an identity system that is backed by government in which a real person can perform inline and online transactions, safely and securely in appropriately private ways. People function in both the real and virtual worlds. The tools and systems they use should provide a seamless and transparent ability to function in both worlds. A proper system will foster creativity and invention and limit mischief and crime.
I look forward to the discussion this week.