I’m not sure many of us can remember a world without the internet anymore as each year we seem to rely more and more on the advantages it can bring; from arranging all the finer details of your holiday to applying for government services. Let’s throw some statistics at you: over ¾ of the UK population is online every day or almost every day, 76% have bought goods and services over the internet, and BBA research forecasts that by 2020 customers will use their mobile to manage their current account 2.3 billion times, more than internet, branch and telephone put together.

Powerful statistics yet when we move around online, we do so with our identity and reputation. If we need to access our telephone bill, we sign in with our identity credentials and can access all our information. But just how much information does the provider hold and are they really being secure enough with our data? Just quite how in control of our digital identity are we?

We interview Emma Lindley, Founder of Innovate Identity, who is an expert in the digital identity and online trust field, to find out about the challenges of digital identities and where she sees the control shifting over the next few years.

Q: As our lives move increasingly online, how does this effect our identity?

A: Having a trustworthy digital identity is one of the most important challenges of our era. As more services are moved online and individuals are increasing the amount of data they are sharing, it creates more risk with our digital and also general identity. You can’t miss data breach after data breach which hits the news on an almost weekly basis now. Be it TalkTalk, Ashley Madison or Sony, large amounts of our personal data have been compromised and could find its way into the dark net and be sold from anything from 20p upwards.
Obviously the side effects of this are most distressing and irritating for those compromised as identity details need amending, and time spent confirming your identity to multiple providers to ensure you’re not out of pocket when money is stolen from your account.

Q: Is there a way we can retain control of our digital identity?

A: I believe that users need to be put in control of their digital identities and the resulting personal data rather than organisations. There are huge amounts of an individuals’ ‘identity’ flying around and quite often the individual is not in charge of what they are sharing. In a world where privacy online is becoming ever more important, there needs to be a shift of control.

Q: What is the solution?

A: I believe that we need an identity scheme; a scheme that is a home for open standards and legal frameworks, to allow for technical innovations to develop the safe and secure interoperability of consumer owned digital identities across sectors within the UK and beyond. Research we have completed in conjunction with the Open Identity Exchange, which is due to be published shortly, shows that this is something organisations in the UK also want to move forward with. Having an open framework in which digital identities can operate safely and securely is good for consumers and businesses, reducing cost and reducing fraud, whilst improving security and increasing revenue. This can only be good for the overall GDP within the UK.