Interesting podcast on identity

I found this Podcast on identification and its abuses, in which Jim Harper talks about his book “Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood”, very interesting.

The discussion is centered around the proposal for a national identity card, which is currently a hotly debated issue in the USA.
In the podcast (and I presume in the book, which I have ordered and will post as soon as I read through) Mr. Harper establishes a clear distinction between the concepts of identification and credentials. Identification implies the ability of the verifier to establish the identity of the person whilst a credential allows the verifier to establish the right (and/or ability) of the person to gain access to a good or service.

Mr. Harper warns us that governments and private companies are abusing identification for purposes in which credentials will do. For example, instead of having to show the barman a driver license, which contains identity information, a credential establishing legal drinking age could do the job without giving away any identity information.

In an era of digital communication and instant access to large databases, abuses of identification certainly may curtail individual freedoms and rights to privacy, in addition to be a potential risk of identity theft.


Bruce Schneier  has an article on the disadvantages of the Real ID system in his personnal blog.

One Response to Interesting podcast on identity

  1. Mario says:

    A case in point widely reported in the Canadian Press:

    In examining the register of Social Insurance Numbers, Fraser noted that as of last June the number of usable SINs exceeded the estimate of the Canadian population aged 30 and older by about 2.9 million.
    That was down from five million in 2002, but still of concern due to the risk of fraud from SINs linked to fictitious names, or multiple numbers under a single identity.
    Fraser said Human Resources had limited assurance of the “accuracy, completeness and reliability” of SIN register data.
    She also found the Treasury Board Secretariat had not issued updated policies and guidelines on federal use of the Social Insurance Number, leading to “different interpretations and applications.”
    Finally, she chided the government for failing to fully report key information publicly on efforts to improve management of the SIN.

    Ain’t it reassuring to know that the Canadian government doesn’t have a clear policy on what to do with ID?

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