The Top 10 Hot Identity Topics: A Smart Card Alliance Identity Council White Paper

An in-depth report on issues affecting identity management and protection

One hallmark of these policies is the assurance provided to individuals that their private information will be protected and used only to support the delivery of services; indeed, this type of assurance is often promoted as a differentiator between competing organizations. Polls show that security and protection of information are key reasons why consumers choose one business over another, and the private sector is catering to this concern by including it in marketing and advertising campaigns.

In addition to policies, corporations have implemented business practices and processes that authenticate the identities of the people with whom they transact business to ensure that imposters and fraudsters are not granted access to sensitive information. Examples include fingerprinting people when they cash checks, using multi-factor authentication for web-based and face-to-face transactions, and employing layered security techniques to assure correct and reliable enforcement of access control privileges.

Government Policies and Practices

The U.S. Federal government has also instituted a number of policies and regulations designed to protect privacy and heighten security for the storage and use of personal data which it protects as a custodian. A number of initiatives under such headings as E-Authentication, FISMA/GISRA, and the Privacy Act now govern how the government collects, uses, and stores identity information. New access controls are being instituted and enforced, for both internal access by employees and access by the citizenry, and security measures are being increased to ensure the protection and privacy of stored information such as Social Security records and medical files.

Often, government initiatives to protect data and ensure privacy have led the way for similar programs in the private sector. Because the government manages some of the largest databases and identity systems in the world and is under constant public scrutiny, it is not surprising that it is leading the way in implementing policies, practices and technologies designed to protect identity and enhance privacy.

Individual Behavior: Steps You Can Take

Protecting one’s identity is not just the responsibility of governments and corporations. Individuals have an important role to play in protecting their own identities by taking appropriate, cautionary measures. There are a number of basic rules that individuals should follow, such as:

·         Shred or destroy trash that contains personal information (e.g., bank statements, credit card statements, bills).

·         Do not provide personal information to suspicious websites or individuals who contact you using email. The same rule also applies to telephone and mail communications. Thoroughly investigate and determine the authenticity and legitimacy of any person or organization that contacts you asking for personal identity information.

·         Be cognizant of how your identity credentials are used; make sure that your driver’s license, credit cards, and other credentials are not misused during transactions. Try not to let them out of your sight and maintain control of them to the fullest extent possible. 

·         Report lost or stolen credentials to the appropriate issuing authority immediately.

Identity Topic #3: Who Are You?—The Confusion over Identity Information and Determining Who You Are 


Identity is represented by an assortment of information that can be tied to that individual and that describes an individual’s characteristics and uniqueness.

Who are we? In a societal context our identity is established through a series of events and relationships, starting with one’s birth, along with the resulting documentation. Our identity is represented to others through a patchwork of this identity documentation – original paper documents (or copies), ID cards, driver’s licenses, passports, and other types of credentials. In today’s world, managing these items and keeping them safe is an increasingly difficult challenge for all of us. 

How Many Identities Do We Have and Need?

All of us have and use numerous identities in our everyday lives. Some examples are:

·         Professional identity: identity information used by employers