The identerati fiddle while Rome burns

I love a bit of philosophy as much as the next engineer does, and I mean no offence to a bunch of generally lovely, well-meaning folks. But it’s high time the identerati took a long hard look at themselves, and stopped fiddling while Rome burns.

For two days a frantic thread has been running on the Identity Commons list It’s a lot of the usual stuff, turning technological problems into philosophical and sociological conundrums.

At the very same time, another little article has come out about NSTIC and containing this gem: “The White House Cyber Security Adviser Howard Schmidt and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke have recently announced a proposal for mandatory virtual ID cards for Internet users …”.

I am no fan of NSTIC but it’s well intended and it’s plainly not mandatory nor singular. NSTIC’s advocates have gone over this again and again. So for pity’s sake, how can journalists and commentators still get NSTIC so terribly wrong?

Well I’ll tell ya: It’s because after a decade or more of oh-so-earnest work on IdM, collectively we still don’t know what we’re talking about! Just look at some of this stuff! So if the identerati are confused, it’s not surprising that commentators and politicans are tapping around in the dark coming up with crap like “Mandatory virtual ID cards”.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google are getting on with it … and we should shudder to think what a de facto privately controlled universal ID will mean. The one thing worse than the government tatooing ID numbers on all our foreheads is Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt doing it, without our consent, for commercial gain, and with the majority of netizens lulled into thinking it’s actually kinda cool man.

We urgently need some simplifying assumptions, some practical technological advances to protect digital identity data, and a little real progress on Identity Management!