With the evolution of the Internet and its ever increasing use by individuals, organizations are managing sensitive information of millions of individuals on an online basis. Access to such sensitive details has to be provided and controlled with the utmost efficiency while protecting and promoting individual privacy. There is more personal information out there than ever before, and most of it is controlled by others. Increasingly people have little control over their own information. This is the real challenge facing organizations and governments in an era of exponential creation, networking and duplication of data, most of which is identifiable in nature.
A digital identity is information on an entity used by computer systems to represent an external agent. That agent may be a person, organization, application, or device.
The information contained in a digital identity allows for assessment and authentication of a user interacting with a business system on the web, without the involvement of human operators. Digital identities allow our access to computers and the services they provide to be automated, and make it possible for computers to mediate relationships.
The term “digital identity” also denotes certain aspects of civil and personal identity that have resulted from the widespread use of identity information to represent people in an acceptable trusted digital format in computer systems.
According to Feher’s (2019) academic approach: digital identity “refers to the digital data corpus being built by users and digital systems”.
Digital identity is now often used in ways that require data about persons stored in computer systems to be linked to their civil, or national, identities. Furthermore, the use of digital identities are now so widespread that many discussions refer to “digital identity” as the entire collection of information generated by a person’s online activity. This includes usernames and passwords, online search activities, birth date, social security, and purchasing history. Especially where that information is publicly available and not anonymized, and can be used by others to discover that person’s civil identity. In this wider sense, a digital identity is a version, or facet, of a person’s social identity. This may also be referred to as an online identity. With self-sovereign identity (SSI) the user has a means of generating and controlling unique identifiers as well as some facility to store identity data.
The legal and social effects of digital identity are complex and challenging. However, they are simply a consequence of the increasing use of computers, and the need to provide computers with information that can be used to identify external agents.
The issue of authentication is a crucial one and both private organizations as well as government agencies have to develop their own strategy to ensure that authentication procedures for users accessing their systems and resources are fast, effective and efficient. To this effect organizations have to develop their own strategies for authentication and consequently identity management (Pimenidis, 2010).
The European context
Building trust in the online environment is essential for a successful transition to a digital society.
Without trust, citizens and businesses are reluctant to engage in digital transactions.
Electronic identification (eID) and electronic trust services, such as electronic signatures, are key enablers helping European citizens to manage their digital identities.
They act as trust builders by providing certainty on the parties interacting electronically.
A coordinated approach for Digital Identity at EU level is needed to allow citizens and business to benefit from the opportunities that the Single Digital Market offers for providing and accessing services across borders.
The European context
Read the following research to discover what digital identity management includes.
Digital Identity Management
According to Ribble (2011) digital communication “is the electronic exchange of information”.
Visit the following link and consider some basic rules for digital communications that you can discuss in class and share with adult learners.
This topic covered extensively the concept of digital identity which is defined by the data used when people interact with digital systems and reflects their online behavior. When exchanging personal data strategies about digital identity management have to be employed by both organizations and individuals.