[LINK] RFC: A Review of the Digital Persona Literature

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Jul 31 11:05:21 AEST 2012

The paper below is mainly about data surveillance, but it's also 
relevant to identity management schemes and their ongoing failure to 
get it right.

As always, constructive negative feedback much appreciated.

It's open for forwarding to other individuals and relevant lists.

                           Promise Unfulfilled:
              The Digital Persona Concept, Two Decades Later

                     Exposure Draft of 31 July 2012


The term 'digital persona' was coined in the early 1990s to refer to 
models of an individual's public personality based on data and 
maintained by transactions, and intended for use as a proxy for the 

An examination was undertaken of publications that, during the 
intervening 20 years, have cited the paper, used the term, or used 
equivalent terms. This shows that the concept has achieved only 
moderate impact in the academic literature, and even less in industry 
and government. Two extensions to the theory are presented, one 
placing the concept more clearly within a comprehensive theory 
relating to human identification and authentication, and the other 
distinguishing hidden from open personas.

Systems that deal intensively in personal data have variously been 
driven and enabled by new information technologies. However, 
considerable difficulties have been experienced by a succession of IT 
industry initiatives, including digital signatures, single-sign-on, 
federated identities and identity management schemes. The problems 
the industry has encountered derive from its failure to reflect the 
insights offered by the theory of the digital persona.

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law               University of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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