Trust ID panels results
Panel summary from Dr. Gonzalez-Bailon
Social Science of the Digital Economy
Joint Session of Working Groups 5 and 7
24 July 2008 Imperial College
Chair: Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon
The discussion merged two of the panels advertised: trust, data and security, and identity
management in the next generation internet. The session started with a brief presentation that
highlighted the relevance of the following issues for the development of the Digital Economy
1. Identity management across different platforms and applications;
2. The factors that prompt individuals to trust certain technologies or applications more
than others; and
3. The segmentation of the online population in different groups with different needs
We presented a number of research questions around these issues and asked the audience to
evaluate them with us. Such questions included the following:
1. What can identity management tell us about people’s preferences?
2. What motivates individuals to participate in digital activities, particularly in those
activities that result in the production of public goods (like Wikipedia)?
3. Can we learn something about the arrangements (‘the rules of the game’) that
encourage that participation?
During the discussion we considered the possibility of centralising and monitoring
information on multiple identities to avoid threats to security. This led to an assessment of the
difficulties posed by such a proposal, and the trade-off between security and freedom.
The risk of faking identities was said to be inconsequential in certain online settings, for
instance e-Bay: being able to detect the authenticity of the person offering the exchange (as
opposed to their real name) is enough to engage in trustworthy interactions. To the extent that
identity might not be a requirement to trust, more attention should be paid to improving
authentication techniques. We also considered to what extent online interactions pose new
threats to security and identity management that were not already there: people have been
faking their identity for a long time (false IDs, fraud, etc), not always for illegitimate reasons
(in the case of absence of freedoms and political persecution); the internet would be just
transferring these old issues into a new arena. It was also noted that because most of the
things that happen online leave a trail, the internet might be making more visible (not
necessarily more abundant) the use of false identities. In any case, it was concluded that
understanding how identity is managed online is crucial for the development of the DE:
without such knowledge we cannot identify groups, the factors that promote the emergence of
trust, or the motivation that prompt individuals to participate in the creation of online
collective goods (Wikipedia, Facebook, e-Bay).