August 24, 2011, 2:13 PM — Ordinary people might be a lot smarter than most in IT think about protecting their own privacy and security online, if a new study from ID Analytics, Inc. is correct. Or they might just be a lot less honest.
According to a report released in June, 45 million Americans deliberately "manipulate their identities in applications for credit, cell phone service, auto loans or other credit transactions."
From an IT/data-security point of view, that's good, in that it means they're not all entering all the same data – usernames and passwords are the usual problem – on every web site on which they have to register.
Observed strictly from the perspective of data architects and designers of federated authentication systems, it would seem to indicate that average people have a relatively clear understanding of all the pieces that make up the "self" online, how easy it is to change to a different self or even steal someone else's. Not the real self, but a metadata homunculus born from the accumulation of data about us from many different sources, some legally binding, some not.
That amorphous mass of identity information describes us in every detail and exists in multiple dimensions, showing one set of relationships to our work environment, another to our personal networked connections and a third to our personal-business connections – mortgage holders, credit-card companies and other services for which we contract and pay online.
Keeping all that data accurate, straight, secure and private is turning into a big business and a huge legal mess as courts and web service companies wrestle with how much control individuals should have over data about themselves and how much is legitimate for a product or service provider can hold about its customers.
It could be great news about how well the bulk of the population will adapt to the realities of the Internet as privacy evaporates, information with which we trusted one service provider shows up on the screens of another without our approval and every bit of data recorded about us is available at will to both law enforcement and any business that either wants to pursue us to collect on past debts, or to pitch us new products or services they think we'd buy, based on exhaustive analysis of the most private details of our lives.