What does our future identity look like?

Last updated: 19 March 2014

Facebook and Google have been under the spotlight recently for the way they deal with online identities. These are just some of the most high profile examples, but have helped drive heightened awareness of our online identities and privacy settings. This week’s SXSWi is understandably awash with debates about what the future might look like for our personal identities.

Some of you may have seen Ken’s recent post on Digital Wills (if you haven’t, I urge you to take a look here), but as I write this from Texas in March 2012 I don’t need to look quite so far ahead, focusing instead at the here and now.

Digital identity is already a big part of our identification needs. Whether passports, national ID cards or medical documents, there’s an increasing trend to digitize our identification, particularly amongst the fairly young demographic that we find here at SXSW.

eID not only provides enhanced convenience for citizens and organizations dealing with them, but can also dramatically improve security. Emmanuel Ventadour elaborates on this on The Silicon Trust’s blog:

Discussing the benefits of eID, Emmanuel says:

What has become clear is that a password is simply not secure enough in the online world. Consumers now need to remember too many passwords and PINs, and if the password is complex – and therefore difficult to guess – there is a strong likelihood that they will keep a record of it, thereby making it much less secure. As a result, two-factor authentication is becoming more popular. Many retail banks now give their online customers a one-off password device to enable them to make secure transactions. And of course, a combination of a smart card and biometric such as an eID card has the bonus of ensuring security and privacy requirements are met while maintaining trust in a system. There are real opportunities for governments to get involved.


There’s a couple of films showing here where predicting the future of our identities would not be out of place. But the future is very much upon us already. If you are on Facebook, the chances are your online identity needs its privacy settings reviewing. Your digital identity, however, can be in safe hands with the rise in secure technologies such as biometrics and smart cards.

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