Looking back at 2011: what was new, and what could have been (IDentity.Next newsletter)

I wrote an article for the IDentity.Next newsletter that came out today (21 December 2011). It is here, and for convenience, also copied below.

Looking back at 2011: what was new, and what could have been


With 2011 almost over, the question IDentity.News had for me was to look back to 2011 what were new developments in the area of digital identity. Since I’m in the business of innovation, looking forward is more in my DNA than looking back. And so a little out of my comfort zone, below three major new developments of 2011, and, also, three developments that did not happen in 2011.

1. Trust frameworks– in the US (e.g. NSTIC, OIX), in NL (e.g. eHerkenning) and elsewhere trust frameworks as a way to ensure a fair and trusted ecosystem to provide identity-related services are catching on. Experience with large scale deployment is still limited though. I guess we just have to do and learn. And the alternative for trust frameworks (i.e. government issued identities) also stays popular (e.g., the new German ID card, the Dutch DigiD/eNIK).

2. Cloud and identity-as-a-service– it seems impossible for a self-respecting event in the area of identity not to spend significant time on the combination of cloud and identity. And something similar seems to apply to identity experts J. There is also progress here; especially commercial offerings of identity-as-a-service have been progressing. On making the cloud identity-enabled, things have developed slower than I would have expected a year ago. Although I guess everyone (?) agrees that companies want to have centralized authentication, authorization and provisioning (efficiency, control etc), adoption of standards is still too limited, which is at least part of the reason this is going slow.

3. DigiNotar (and other security fiasco’s in the identity area) – while a disaster for DigiNotar and potentially a huge disaster for an unknown number of Iranians, there is actually a bright side. It resulted in more attention at ‘higher levels in organizations’ for information security and identity. And I’m sure many security consultants had sufficient work in second half of 2011. The downside of this attention is that I rather have digital identity associated with ‘enabling online services’ than with security risks.

There are also three developments that did not happen, but could have. I stay close to home for these.

What first comes to mind is that there is still no clarity on introduction of a Dutch electronic identity card (eNIK), although the responsible Minister of Internal Affairs promised parliament a proposal before the end of the year (still two weeks to go!).

What also did not happen in the Netherlands is the Dutch national electronic health record, instead the Dutch senate seems to prefer faxes, or maybe smoke signals. Not that the proposed law they stopped did not have its flaws from a privacy and authorization perspective. But the proposal could have been improved upon, and current practise is much worse in my opinion. Hopefully the Dutch national health record will continue in another form, there are signs it might.

The third development that did not happen is a breakthrough in a re-usable consumer identity solution on Dutch national or, even better, European or worldwide scale: we still have the same long list of username/passwords for every website that offers personalization.

Maarten Wegdam (principal consultant Novay – IDentity.Next member panel)

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