Identity and its verification

Nicholas BOHM and Stephen MASON explore the problems of identity and to verify it (or them). as the authors are lawyers, this paper has an interesting point of view. They are fully aware(and even surprisingly accurate) of technology and security limitations.

First, they explain what an identity (or an identifier) is, and what the challenges are in our modern shrinking world. My preferred statement is

And there is an increasing tendency to confuse a person’s knowledge of an identifier with evidence that the person with the knowledge is the person to whom the identifier relates

Then, they explore the difficulty to prove the relationship between an identifier and a person. They show the limits of identification documents (intrinsic such as birth certificate, or extrinsic such as utility bill). Finally, they tackle the identity cards, more precisely electronic identity cards. They show the short-come because not every one will have a trusted reader, and especially not with general purpose devices.

Due to their background, the paper has a strong focus on liability. For instance, no Government will ever take liability for the passports it issues. This analysis of the identity problem is enlightening.

Due to this special point of view, it is recommended to read this paper. Even if you’re not interested in identity matters, the paper will be educational for the liability point of view.

N. Bohm and S. Mason, “Identity and its verification,” Computer Law & Security Review, vol. 26, Jan. 2010, pp. 43-51 available at … 011/01/bohm-mason-identity.pdf.

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