Panel on Digital Identity in the House of Lords

                 Digital Identity: Risks, Control and Monitoring in the Online World

                                   - Panel Discussion in London  (UK) - on July 2, 2018

Modern digital technology infrastructure relies heavily upon services that often require their users to establish accounts and assert their identities as they make use of the services. For this reason, the collection, aggregation, and analysis of personal data have become politically contentious issues, as the businesses that operate on such data often have little or no public accountability with respect to how the data are gathered and used. When marginalised communities are involved, the problem is exacerbated because of the inability of public institutions to defend the interests of individuals and small businesses against the interests of those who seek, or are in, control.

The current state of the art in identity systems for communication, finance, and collaboration impose non-consensual trust relationships on their users.

Such trust relationships expose users to powerful central authorities with potentially corrupt or unscrupulous operators, poor security practices, and the potential for coercion by politically or economically powerful actors.

Global Thinkers Forum organised a timely discussion, moderated by Geoffrey Goodell, Deputy Executive Director, UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies.

  • Do digital identity systems inevitably lead to surveillance or economic rent-seeking by their owners and administrators?
  • Is there a way to conduct effective end-user authentication and authorisation without establishing centralised identity or data aggregation?
  • Is there a way to develop an authentication framework to empower users to manage their own identities and to empower local businesses and cooperatives to establish trust relationships and business practices on their own terms, without involving powerful intermediaries? 
  • What should be the role of policy-makers?

The panel discussion was hosted by The Rt. Hon. Lord Alderdice.