thoughts and observations of a privacy, security and internet researcher, activist, and policy advisor

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Global Governance of Privacy and Identity

International organizations, originally created by states to coordinate their policies in specific fields, are starting to become more aware of identity management developments. At the same time, these organizations are more and more collaborating with non-state actors like business and public interest groups. A short list:
  • The ITU has just released its new report "", covering a wide array of issues related to digital lifestyle. Chapter four is titled "", and it contains a thoughtful
    discussion of digital ID management issues and developments. The conclusion says:
    "legal and policy considerations require further harmonization at the global level. (...) In order to ensure the global impact of such a system, dialogue at the international level seems indispensable."
  • The EU has been funding several research projects in this context, like PRIME, FIDIS, RAPID, and GUIDE, the latter dealing with user-ids in e-government contexts.
  • The OECD has announced that it will look closer into digital ID management in 2007, building upon its earlier work on digital signatures and authentication as well as online ID-theft.
  • The OECD-APEC workshop in Seoul in September 2005 already had a session on "Comparing legislative and policy approaches to identity management and to security of information systems and networks".
  • The recent UN Internet Governance Forum saw the launch of a Dynamic Coalition on Privacy, which is planning to come up with recommendations in this field, among other things.
  • There is also some interest developing in the private sector for global public policy harmonization. See e.g. Microsoft's Jerry Fishenden who suggested a "UN Charter for Digital Identity".
Technology governs, as we have learned from the early sociologists of technology as well as from Lawrence Lessig and others elaborating this for cyberspace. It is good to see that the global governance of digital identity is no longer left to the technologists and private vendors alone, and that bodies charged with protecting the public interest and constitutional principles like privacy are getting more involved in this.


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