Throughout your day, you convey a great deal of information about
yourself to others. You have control over some of this information,
while some of it is collected and used without your consent. While
you may have the privilege to choose what clothes you put on in
the morning, you may not have the right to determine how much of
the data produced by you and about you is used. How does your employer
use your e-mail archives? What does your cell phone carrier know
about your friends and waking habits? How does your grocer alter
sale items based on your purchases?
The information you give out on a daily basis is quite context
dependent. While you might give your medical history to your doctor,
would you give it to a random stranger? Does your language differ
between work, the pub and at home with your 3-year-old? What about
your clothing? Not only do you make different decisions based on
the level of trust you have, but also based on what is socially
appropriate. Speaking to your boss like you speak to your child
might be both inappropriate and offensive. Do you have different
groups of friends, family and associations that may or may not interact
with one another? What roles do you play in your life and how do
aspects of your character change when you are in these different
All of this data says something about you
- who you are, what you like, how you live your life; it says something
about your identity and your roles, your relationship with people
and society as a whole. For this reason, you should be able to control
who has access to your data and how they can use it. Who should
have your phone number and when should they be able to call you?
What about your medical records? What clothes do you wear? Who gets
to see you in your bathrobe? By understanding your context and the
people around you, you manage your identity information with ease.
You know when to present what information based on context
- location and people.
In the digital world, controlling this information can be a bit
tricky. You don't have access to the databases that store your records,
the formulas that calculate your reputation or the third parties
that stole/bought your data. Information you gave away in one location
may appear in another later on and removing such persistent data
is virtually impossible. Rather than resorting to anonymity, imagine
a system that allowed you to control your digital presence and your
Imagine that you
are in control of your digital identity.
SecureId is a program that helps you protect
and control your digital identity by allowing you to determine who
can access your private information. While location is no longer
a useful marker for context, people and type of interactions are
still fundamental to the idea of context. By allowing you to articulate
your digital contexts based on facets of your identity, SecureId
provides the framework for you to properly relate identity information
and people with contexts, thereby giving you the ability to portray
In everyday life, people can gain access to different
aspects of your identity depending on various levels of awareness
about you and your presentation. If they know the meaning behind
your clothes or have a particular type of relationship with you,
they have different levels of knowledge through which they can make
different assumptions about how you are presenting yourself. Knowing
this level of context, you can adjust your presentation accordingly.
In a similar fashion, SecureId uses a knowledge-based security
system to help you manage access to various facets of your identity.
While everyone can access public data, those who can provide matching
identity characteristics (such as similar email association) or
knowledge (based on predetermined questions) are able to access
data associated with particular facets. Within these faceted borders,
you can secure different types of information
that reveal aspects of your identity including demographic data,
e-commerce habits, documents and media, and contact access.
SecureId offers you an interactive visual landscape
for articulating your identity facets and associating appropriate
data with them. Through this mechanism, you can quickly see who
has access to what aspects of your self. By presenting you with
a portrait of your digital identity, SecureId also gives
you a virtual mirror to your social performance, an awareness that
is taken for granted in the physical world.