Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bob Frankston: It's not "Identity Theft"!

Bob Frankston has a nice post (an essay, actually) related to identity issues entitled "It’s not “Identity Theft”!" which discusses some of the nuances and issues that intersect identity and so-called identity theft. As he says, it's not your "identity" that's being stolen, but some of the "tokens" that are used to engage in transactions. As he suggests:
Imagine a simple alternative — instead of giving your “identity” information over the phone or typing it into a website you have a third party who can vouch for you and the merchant. Instead of recording personal information about you the merchant would simply get a token (a unforgeable code number). Note that this doesn't require that the third party know anything about you — you can choose to have a “bearer” relationship which means you simply pay cash.

I've read his essay, but I need to read it again with a finer-tooth comb and then let him now about some of my own thinking about identity, including my thoughts on Network Personal Identity (NPI) and my concept of a Data Union for enabling access to identity-related information without giving away the store.

For those of you who are not one of us old geezers, Bob was the programmer working with Dan Bricklin on the original VisiCalc spreadsheet software at Software Arts. Bob and Dan (and their cohort David Reed) were also involved with Multics, upon which Unix was loosely based.

-- Jack Krupansky

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