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Real Id or Virtual ID for a virtual world

Week 18, 2007

We recognize a person is really who he/she pretends to be thanks to the trust we have in the ID issuer, and the technological means we have to establish the ID proof that is presented is a genuine one. Our identities are to be represented by either material objects like smart cards, tokens, ePassports, NFC handsets, and probably new form factors or purely software entities. Our industry focus might be to demonstrate in the future (as well as it has been able to do in the past), the superiority of a physical device in the hands of the identity owner on a purely software solution that can be more easily tampered with.

New identity devices will enable human–to-machine interactions, human-to-human transactions (for instance, peer-to-peer payment using NFC handsets) and machine-to-machine communications for which a huge development is expected.

These Identities need to be established on firm grounds. What is happening now with the controversy in the US about the RealID project (cf. SI #07-10) and similar issues in the UK and Australia may not be the best way to establish a trusted reference for an ID system.

IDs establish an increasing presence in the virtual world. We keep on using login and passwords, or, better, smart card technology-based digital identification devices to establish our identity on line. More gateways are built everyday between the real world and the virtual world. For instance, Visa Europe just started to build an island in the Second Life universe. It follows other major brands like IBM, Vodafone and Coca-Cola, who have already established their presence. Real ID and real money are needed in the virtual world. Visa is just getting ready to become a major player there too.

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights