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Personal Data Vault – putting YOUR data in YOUR hands

Jan 27, 2012 by Sebastian Rohr

I still remember the fun that was had when Dick Hardt first made his cool presentations on User Centric Identity Management and regaining control of who would access to what attribute of your multiple personas, be it online, at home or at work. We all know, that his company sxip identity failed because it did not gain enough momentum to monetize on the idea. Still, concepts such as the (also “failed”, much to my demise) Information Cards by Microsoft or the OpenID approach share some aspects of the sxipper product – putting you in control of your data. The current hype around the new EU privacy and data security legislation is putting some more focus to this! Apparently, only very tech savvy users – geeks like you and me  - seem to widely adopt and use OpenID. I, personally was attracted to Clavid, a Swiss IDP who combines OpenID with the one thing missing everywhere else: Strong Authentication! Most of you know that this is sort of my pet topic here at KCP and so I was really amazed to see them offer Yubikeys, Avionics’ Internet Passport and even SwissID Government issued certificates as a means of strong authentication – making Clavid an early representative of the prospering “Authentication as a Service” market segment. Not prospering enough, I guess, as I did not see the Clavid guys buying fast cars and castles at Lake Geneva’s' shores… Anyway, the concept of letting us – the users/consumers/customers – decide on who gets access to which detail of my life and (digital) identity remains an unsolved issue. Be it the tedious task of filling out forms after forms to get your kid into day-care or getting new insurance for your car – you have to share information about yourself and your loved ones and wonder: do they REALLY need that info? And if so: why do they ask me the same questions over and over again? Wouldn't it be nice if more of these form-fields could be “auto-filled”, depending on your choice of what to disclose and what not? Wouldn't it be great to have one common place to securely store all the insurance information, account information and whatnot? Just like putting your valuables in a bank deposit box (or your high-security safe in your secret lair downstairs, depending if you are a super villain or not)? You could even “compartmentalize” your life into stuff belonging to work/career (like digital versions of all your certifications and endorsements), your personal leisure activities (like memberships in sportsclub and your fishing license, Open Water Diver certificate), your kids info (school district, Headmaster contacts, the football team coach) and the list continues. I recently tried to gather my families' core identity data, such as passport and ID card numbers, SSN, healthcare ID, tax ID etc. and it took me full Sunday. Last week I did it all over again, as I misplaced the sheet of paper I used – pretty old school, don't you think? But all personal stupidity aside: wouldn't it be great to use that “digital vault” full of your own personal data to actually ERASE all the personal detail that are stored at the gazillion of companies and organizations you interact with day to day? Why must I put my CC info and full address with “your airline of choice”, if I could use their services “pseudonymously” and only allowing access to those details “on demand” while I actually book a flight? Currently, if I lose my CC or it expires the internet economy burdens me with changing my CC info in each of the gazillion pages I do business with. Why? I am looking forward to a (hopefully very near) future, where I can actually manage my data in one place and have those who need access to it authorized on a configurable basis. Sure, my employer should have continuous access to my bank account information! But if I am leaving – how can I make them erase that info on file today? Look put for some colnew announcements and blogs on KCP on this - my colleagues will provide more info as it becomes "freely available" :-)


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Sebastian Rohr
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