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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Identity — Management or Trust?

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, June 8, 2006
8:41 pm

Mark Macauley posted an interesting article yesterday, posing the question, “isn’t the root of Identity Management really the ongoing validation of trust?”

“Once we are employed, and verified as a trusted employee, we are then monitored, validated, revalidated, challenged, and tested hundreds of times a day about who we are and are we trustworthy. Firewalls, logins, content blockers, badges, token fobs, biometrics, etc. are all part of this never ending process of maintaining trust.”

It made me remember an article I posted, discussing Masood Mortazavi‘s insights about trust.

Identity is all about trust. Certain parties make claims, other parties seek to validate those claims, — all the processes we talk about — just to make sure that a trusting relationship is established, enabling two parties to engage in commerce or otherwise interact.

But I see in Mark’s discussion a deeper question. Can institutions really “manage” Identities of people who interact with them? Perhaps this is the same question posed in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) world – Can institutions really “manage” their relationships with their customers?

For example, my previous post mentioned a CRM system implemented by a county in Georgia. Even though their information system is labeled “CRM,” can DeKalb county really “manage” its relationships with its constituents?

One thing the Internet has done is to deflate the notion that institutions can really manage relationships of any type. Companies can build deep reservoirs of information about people and try like crazy to use that data to influence the behavior of those of us they wish to reach, but we are really in control. I like to think that I manage my relationships with the institutions, not the other way around.

And so it should be with Identity. I can acknowledge that Sun Microsystems owns and manages the Identity credentials they issued to me. After all, I get a paycheck from Sun. They pay me to access information systems on their behalf. But my relationship with eBay, Google, Yahoo or Duluth Trading Company (they make great shirts)? I should control my Identity – my relationship of trust – with them.

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