A month or so ago, I chanced upon a website that advocated a new kind of contract between persons. They called it a limited liability persona. It was a very cool thing and I think it's the future of identity. At least I hope so.
Part of the problem with identity theft these days is that ultimately it all boils down to a few small keys and then you're busted. Most of your most significant IDs are keyed by your mother's maiden name and your social security number. Most people should know by now that there are duplicates. It also doesn't take much to forge a number. The idea that's cool about the LLP is that you can establish your own authentication independently of every other kind of contract you have.
When it comes to a national ID, there's a certain amount of paranoia and ignorance. It's probably something I should get involved in a bit more in. I checked out a video not long ago - the guy from Sxip talked about identity 2.0, but that whole conversation seems to have disappeared, or at least some of the experts have gone to secret projects. It rather reminds me of the time several years ago when we were talking about micropayments and the 'impossibility' of setting up that thing which has become PayPal. There's a certain inevitability to it, you just don't know where it's going to come from.
I had a conversation with myself the other day merging the four factors, GWOT, LLP, Immigration and Identity Theft all into one.
One of the interesting things I discovered is that one of the reasons we know there are about 12 million illegal immigrants living in the US is because the credit bureaus know. They keep databases and they share databases. Let's think about the capability right now, and let's do it in terms of voter fraud. In approximately 30 seconds, from a million locations, I can create a connection that talks to some number of computers and gets 40 bucks out of my bank account. I'm not talking about ATMs, I'm talking about cash registers. I have a PIN, I have a 16 digit ID number, I have an expiration date and a three digit code on the back of the card for additional validation. Your kids and my kids are used to getting gift cards that just sit in large displays at the local supermarket ready to be activated for 25 bucks worth of iTunes downloads. That's kind of like the LLP, it is a persona you create just for the purposes of music downloads, and the security system allows you to activate it for a preset maximum. There are never going to be concerns about duplicate numbers on gift cards. You just use big numbers.
If I were president, the first thing I would do is to initiate a worldwide census. I would direct the State Department to publish all of the kinds of persons we recognize and start keeping tabs. One of the great difficulties we have in dealing with the War on Terror is that we haven't dealt with a couple realities. Consider them:
1. Detention is the Ultimate Solution
As Edward Luttwak points out, all guerrilla wars, urban or rural (urban guerrilla is a common euphemism, meaning terrorist) can be won by detaining every human being who might possibly be an enemy, holding them securely until the war is over and the winner is clear, and then releasing them without punishment. Like, duh, man. Which has more negative impact on innocent civilians: internment in a civilized detention center, or involvement in a civil war?
...The insurgents require the population to act in a certain way -- support, sympathy, intimidation, sometimes just reaction to provocation, you know? And if you can take that reaction of the population away from them, it's extremely difficult for them to achieve anything.
That's why the surge is not only a matter of putting extra troops into the country, it's what they do when they get there. And what they're doing is going into areas and not leaving. And they sit with the population, partner with them, help them defend themselves. Keep the enemy away. Prevent them from coming back. And if you like, restructure the environment to hard-wire the insurgent out of it.
Three movies come to mind when I think about how difficult it is to find ones family in war, Blood Diamond, Schindler's List and Hotel Rwanda. Forget about American civil liberties for a moment and think about what an enormous service to the world it would be if we went made a huge locater database for every human on the planet. I'm willing to suggest that a proper system wold be of tremendous benefit to humanity if it were done with the LLP concept in mind. That is to say you could absolutely and positively identify people but that through LLP, the people themselves would be in control of the associations known to the system of authentication.
Now for the purposes of GWOT and Immigration, I imagine that there would be certain absolutes built into the system - which represents the capacity to replicate authentication that we have today. The best ID anyone has, or any garden variety civilian has, is a national passport. That's the thing that is recognized worldwide. So perhaps as a minimum, in the Last ID, your nation of citizenship and all things that State Departments attach to that, would be retained. IE I would have no control, when identifying myself, that I would reveal my nationality and consequently my status with my home country - all the stuff that an immigration control agent would have at customs. But whether or not I wish to give permission to associate my credit report or medical records would be entirely up to me.
Ultimately, the cost of not doing this is what we are up against.
Americans will have a very low tolerance, given the openness of our
society, to domestic terrorism should it rise above a certain point. I
have every expectation that we will, for the sake of security, submit
to a regime of national identification which supercedes the present
system, warts and all.