Newcomer Phorm has ignited a row about online privacy. It’s an old debate that’s being brought back into the news by new technology, but the impact on Phorm’s share price demonstrates the power of privacy concerns.
Now that the dust has settled on the publication of the IPS 2008 Delivery Plan and Sir James Crosby’s report, what are the implications for the National Identity Scheme?
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has just published the government’s new Delivery Plan for the National Identity Scheme, and HM Treasury has released the long awaited Crosby report. Here’s a summary of the key points at a packed press conference.
A little while ago, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) renewed the debate about building a compulsory DNA database for all UK citizens. The Home Office has rejected this idea, and two individuals are challenging the existing of the UK DNA database at the European Court of Human Rights. What’s all the fuss about?
Many online and telephone services rely on asking daft personal questions to authenticate users, particularly when a password has been lost or an account locked out. It’s quite common to rely on a mother’s maiden name, first pet’s name or other significant personal data to prove the identity of the caller. We’ve already discussed the problem of using publicly-available data for this purpose, but there’s another problem: remembering the answer you gave when you established these challenge-response questions. How did you spell your first pet’s name? What was the exact model of your first car, or the name of your first love? And will you get locked out if you can’t remember these facts? Courtesy of Wired magazine, we now have the chance to play personal security Trivial Pursuit. Enjoy!
For a while now I’ve been waiting for the issue of data losses to permeate the popular media. Soaps are a great way to get people plugged into these awareness ideas. Well, I’m delighted to announce it’s happened, in The Archers of all places. Carrie’s lost the paper folder containing everyone’s weights from the slimming club. Unencrypted obviously. This is likely to be their own data Chernobyl (perhaps a better metaphor here might be the ‘data anaerobic digester?’), and the repercussions will be felt all the way to The Bull. I can’t wait to hear what happens next.
The Economist is carrying an interview with Microsoft’s Kim Cameron, their Identity Architect and the powerhouse behind Windows Cardspace. Kim is quite possibly the most influential identity expert in the world, so if the Economist is profiling his work, then we should hopefully see identity issues go mainstream for business executives.
It would seem that the plague of personal data loss incidents has spread to Irish shores as the Irish Blood Transfusion Service admits to losing a laptop with 170,000 patient records on it.
I only have one identity. That’s me. I know who I am. You can’t steal it from me. But I use many personae, and the UK, like many ‘western’ nations, is built upon pseudonymity. For example, I have about a dozen pieces of plastic in my wallet. There is no direct link between the Toby that holds a Visa card and the T Stevens that holds an Amex. When I apply for a new financial product, the provider has to rely on the likes of Experian and Equifax to derive confidence about whether those are the same individual.
Privacy is often defined as “the right to be left alone” (OED). The key issue here is the ‘right’ – not the ‘alone’. Very few of us choose to be left entirely alone, we surround ourselves with people, phones, computers, tvs, radios etc. But we want to know we could be left alone in a given context: I’m happy to be called by family & friends at weekends, but have no interest in receiving calls from double glazing firms.