The New Face Of Identity In The Digital Age

Digital Identity

In May 2010, home secretary Theresa May and the new coalition announced their first piece of legislation, The Identity Documents Bill which aimed to reliably identify users of government websites. It also killed off the national ID card scheme introduced by Labour, following an outcry surrounding civil liberties.

At the time the coalition promised the move would save taxpayers money and give identity assurance to make it more difficult for fraudsters and identity thieves. However, in recent years we have seen a shift to a new type of identity revolution, not lead by government policy agenda, but as a result of our growing interest in social media platforms.

With the introduction and rapid take up of technologies like social login, many companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have become ‘identity providers’. If you’ve ever signed up to a new website and chosen to log in using a social media account rather than input all of your personal details then you will appreciate the advantages of this.

Social media profiles such as Facebook are verified by your network of ‘friends’, just as you would get a referee to confirm your identity for a passport. As well as this, Facebook has a raft of rules as part of its privacy policy, which dictates how organisations can store and utilise the data they receive when entering an agreement with the user via a ‘virtual handshake’ – the authentication screen where you agree to sign in with your Facebook account. This integration of digital identity is progressing further into our lives as it leaves the confines of the internet and forms the connective tissue of the ‘Internet of Things’.

As technology such as the Internet of Things progresses, the use of these social identities will only increase and their uses will become ever more advanced. For instance, NFC capability in new mobile phones will enable them to not only act as your digital wallet, but to integrate with the social identity providers and become your new identity card. What we are seeing then, is the gradual redundancy of traditional forms of identity and the emergence of a new form, separate from the State.

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, some may argue that this independence from state control is a win for civil liberties, which was a major concern for the coalition Government when the identity card scheme was scrapped. However, others will argue that the companies that offer these services need to be held accountable for safeguarding and verifying this information. One thing is for sure, identity is going to play a huge part in the future of technology and its subsequent application in our lives.

Patrick Salyer headshot 2014

As chief executive officer, Patrick Salyer is responsible for Gigya's overall business strategy and day-to-day operations. Patrick previously held the position of Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Gigya, driving retail product strategy and operations as well as strategic partnerships including relationships with the top social networks and identity providers including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. Before joining Gigya, Patrick co-founded a suite of social network applications and games and served as Associate Consultant for L.E.K. Consulting, a strategy consulting firm. Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.