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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, May 23, 2024

380 Reasons for a Universal Personal Identity

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, January 5, 2006
12:29 pm

At last count, I have over 380 online accounts for some service or the other. Many of these were set up as I was investigating new concepts or services, but a large number are in various levels of active use. What a pain!

I’m not sure Universal Personal Identity (UPI) is the right term for a solution to this problem, but it describes the concept.

Several organizations are trying to solve the problem – with popular focus on User-Centric Identity. For example, SixApart calls their TypeKey a “central identity.” An i-name is described as a one form of an eXtensible Resource Identifier (XRI). NetMesh calls their Light-Weight Identity (LID) a “personal digital identity.” Kim Cameron’s Laws of Identity describe a “Universal Identity System” that uses “digital identities.” Sxip Identity uses the term Globally Unique Persona Identifier (GUPI), which is a unique identifier issued by the Sxip Network Rootsite that identifies a persona.

Whatever we call it, I think at least three criteria must be satisfied for a UPI to work for me:

It needs to be:

  1. Easy to use. It must simplify my life, not complicate it.
  2. Secure. It must protect my private information, making me less vulnerable to identity theft or other exploitation of my personal information.
  3. Ubiquitous. It needs to be adopted by enough online sites to be meaningful – analogous to use of a Visa card for financial transactions. I can use my Visa card almost every place I want to buy something. Use of a standardized UPI needs to be that widespread.

As our industry seeks answers, I’ll hobble along like the rest of you.


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