This is the 3rd of 3 challenges that I raised in my post “A semantic perspective on the challenges of analyzing human networks“
Privacy is a gnarly topic that divides people; this isn’t too surprising since privacy is personal and specific to each individual and each situation. I may be happy to share my driving history with my auto insurer but not my employer, or my food shopping history with my health provider but not my health insurer (unless there is an incentive to do so). Sometimes my privacy decisions are thoughtful and sometimes arbitrary, but they are always mine and personal to me.
These days the privacy discussion tends to degenerate into a shouting match between those perceived to be protecting mankind from exploitation and those that are out to exploit and manipulate. Clearly the situation isn’t that black & white and the rhetoric isn’t helping us move forward in a productive way. I personally believe that we are fighting a loosing battle in trying to prevent data from being shared; the Internet is just too porous and our use of social, mobile, and increasingly “connected devices” (the Internet of Things in technology parlance) is only exacerbating the situation. So if we can’t stop the flood of data, and in many cases it’s not in our interests to try, how do we control how it can be used? This is where I feel semantic technology can help.
If there was an identity eco-system where each individual controlled their own identity and the privacy policies around it, where information could be shared between people even if they didn’t know exactly who the other was, then you could “have your cake and eat it too”. Deidentification in certain cases and identification in others. Now this topic of an identity ecosystem is not a new idea (some links below), however even with such a system we would still need semantic models to facilitate definition of privacy policies; models that would allow individuals to simply describe in general terms (not a 25 page legal document) how they would like “data about them” used. Note that I don’t say “their data” since in many cases they may not own the data; perhaps a friend shared something on Twitter or an analytics engine generated something from deidentified sources. Which brings me to one of my favorite topics to argue about – deidentification; so I’m going to finish this post with a mini-rant on the topic :-)
- Challenge 1: Graph Modelling & Construction
- Challenge 2: Opening a Graph for Business
- Challenge 3: Effectively Governing Use
Below are a smattering of links to studies, programs, and opinions around identity ecosystem. Some I agree with, others I don’t, but all of them ask interesting questions which need to be asked and answered over the coming years.
- National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC)
- Digital identity in 2019: A vibrant identity ecosystem
- D-CENT: Research on digital identity ecosystems
- STORK: Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed
- You vs. You: How your IDEF digital profile will differ from your current one