Digital Identities: How Secure are They?

Thought Leadership Webinar

Our founder Pauline Norstrom, appeared as a panelist on this fascinating webinar on Digital Identities: How Secure are They? Chaired by Professor Martin Gill

If you missed out on the day (23rd February 2021), the webinar was recorded. The webinar features esteemed leaders in their field, Andrew Churchill lead author of Digital and Authentication Standard PAS499 and Richard Marshall, Director of Sales EMEAR of authentication company Identiv. You’ll find the video it in our media portfolio alongside other videos on a range of topics from AI to Cybersecurity. There is a link to it at the bottom of this page. To go straight to the recording on You Tube click here

For a quick 3 minute read, here is the original content created for our contribution to the panel discussion

How safe are digital identities?

Digital identities have crept into big tech in an insidious way which reduce privacy, security and control.

We loan our data to big tech and trust that it is used legally for the right purpose.

But according to the World Economic forum 66% of people do not trust big tech’s management of their personal data.

We have no way of knowing whether our data is already in a data lake, whether its embedded in AI, nor do we have any means of getting it back. 

In 2018, it was reported that the digital identity of up to 87 million people was used illegally by Cambridge Analytica.  Facebook were fined $5billion for the breach which arose through the abuse of 3rd party data sharing policies.  

Privacy legislation such as GDPR and CCPA in California are a big step forward, however users are still reliant on punitive action deterring data misuse. There are no checks or audits. Data governance relies on trust. 

Verified Digital Identity is secure and saves time. It is embodied in the e.passports of over 1 billion people and combined with automated facial recognition, reduces friction at the borders.  Facial recognition software, which is a form of digital ID, is often portrayed as an intrusive technology if used without consent. 

ClearView AI which takes face data from social media sites and provides it to law enforcement agencies, has recently been banned altogether in Canada.

It was a landmark ruling which affirmed that this digital identity data is owned by the individual, not the big tech firm.

The BSIA quickly responded to the concerns around the lack of government regulation in this area and created a guide to the legal and ethical use of facial recognition. It focuses on a clear step process, with checks and balances, underpinned by current legislation.

In the commercial world, facial recognition is being used with consent, effectively, ethically and responsibly for access control purposes.  

So to sum up…

Unverified Digital identities are not safe in my opinion while we are at the mercy of big tech who justify their internal culture and impose it as the big tech law. This current landscape shouts out for formalised, secure digital identities.

Action needs to be taken in order to give back control to billions of online users, and create verified digital IDs for those whom are without.

According to Mckinsey, 4.4 Billion people cannot currently access secure online services due to a lack of any form of digital ID.  In regulated industries,  digital identities have developed in a highly structured way  which prevents fraud and identity theft while providing secure access to online banking – critical in developing countries.

Trustworthy, Government led Digital ID schemes may also assist a safe return to normality reducing human contact yet providing a verified means of proving identity together potentially with vaccination information, without compromising  privacy.

I believe that formally verified digital IDs are safe because there are standards in place, they are tested and companies have to prove their compliance and there are significant consequences for the data holder if breached.

In my opinion, the greater threat arises from the continued uncontrolled activity of big tech.

Original content created by Pauline Norstrom. Copyright 2021 Anekanta Consulting

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