7 Laws for Privacy-Embedded Internet Identity

Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, has released a whitepaper augmenting Kim Cameron’s seven laws of identity with privacy protections: 7 Laws of Identity: The Case for Privacy-Embedded Laws of Identity in the Digital Age (PDF). I’m busy travelling, so I can’t print and read the entire document right now, but here are excerpts form the commission’s press release:

The next generation of intelligent and interactive web services (“Web 2.0”) will require more, not fewer, verifiable identity credentials, and much greater mutual trust to succeed.

Identity systems that are consistent with the Privacy-Embedded Laws of Identity will help consumers verify the identity of legitimate organizations before they decide to continue with an online transaction.

These Privacy-Embedded Laws offer individuals:

  • easier and more direct user control over their personal information when online;
  • enhanced user ability to minimize the amount of identifying data revealed online;
  • enhanced user ability to minimize the linkage between different identities and actions;
  • enhanced user ability to detect fraudulent messages and websites, thereby minimizing the incidence of phishing and pharming.

Corresponding Privacy-Embedded Principles

Take, for example, Law #1, Personal Control and Consent, which emphasizes that individuals should be in full local control of their own identity information, and exercise informed consent over how their identity information is collected and used by others. One privacy benefit of applying this principle is that identity credentials could be stored locally and securely on a user’s own computer rather than in a centralized online database.

Another example: Law #2, Minimal Disclosure for Limited Use: Data Minimization, speaks to building technical identity systems that minimize the amount of identity information used and disclosed in a given online transaction. In the privacy world, a cardinal rule is that the identification provided should be proportional to the sensitivity of the transaction and its purpose. Why should a credit card number ever be used to verify one’s age? Put another way, why isn’t there a credential that allows people to prove they’re over 65 without revealing all of their other identity information? If someone can prove she is a bona fide university student to gain preferential access to online resources at other educational institutions, then why is her name needed? These privacy-enhanced solutions are all possible under the Privacy-Embedded Laws of Identity.

“We call upon software developers, the privacy community and public policymakers to consider the Privacy-Embedded Laws of Identity closely, to discuss them publicly, and take them to heart,” Dr. Cavoukian declared. “In joining with us to promote privacy-enhanced identity solutions at a critical time in the development of the Internet and e-commerce, both privacy and identity/security will more likely be strongly protected.”

[via Canadian Privacy Law Blog]

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