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Online identity and the digital revolution

British Computer Society (BCS) : 20 June, 2016  (Technical Article)
BCS Security chairman discusses the role of online identity within the digital revolution as part of a new report
Online identity and the digital revolution

Online identity assurance is one of several measures that national and international law enforcement urgently needs – according to a new report entitled ‘Aspects of Identity’ from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Louise Bennet, Chairman of BCS Security, a community of security experts explains: “Our digital identities are more important than ever and it is vital that indidivuals have confidence in going online, whilst benefitting from technological innovations. Cybercrime, online bulling and trolling that takes places is made easier without having a provable robust online identity scheme in place. It’s a matter of personal choice in choosing an online identity scheme and many considerations need to be taken into account with an identity scheme provider before agreeing to terms and conditions.”

The report, produced by the BCS Identity Assurance Working Group, a community of IT security experts, following international research and consultation, outlines a number of points that need to be taken into account when selecting online identity schemes.

Online identity schemes require individuals’ to prove who they are when accessing digital services and the validation of their identity is authenticated with an online identity provider, which can include credit reference agencies and banks. The schemes can be used to protect individuals and organisations alike from fraud and other online risks.

Everyone in society needs to be able to enjoy the benefits of the internet and in order to do this the report writers recommend that citizens consider the following when choosing an online identity schemes to suit them:
* The scheme should be clear about its purpose. For example is it intended to be used by individuals for secure online banking, shopping, looking at data an organisation holds about them or something else?
* The scheme should have transparency about whether an individual’s personal data is going to be shared with anyone else. The privacy and security policy should be accessible and understandable so that an individual can decide if they are comfortable with it.
* The scheme should be clear who is liable and ensure all users understand how to get redress if things go wrong.

Louise continues: “Ultimately all online identity schemes will have their own strengths and weaknesses. On a daily basis individuals’ data is being shared all around them and the whole spectrum of use may need to be met by one online scheme, or perhaps by several interoperable schemes, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution.”

As part of its work to make IT good for society and commitment to making personal data work for everyone: organisations, individuals and society alike, BCS, has launched a ‘Personal Data Challenge’. The Institute want to put people in control and at the same time empower organisations to use data in more beneficial ways, with genuine trust on both sides. The goal is to achieve the full potential of data by seeking the best possible public benefit; to achieve the best outcomes for the most people with the least risk and harm.

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