Notes from the SPRITE+ Stakeholders’ and DTPC Working Group (II) Post One

Photo by Compare Fibre (downloaded from Upsplash) 

The SPRITE+ Digital Technologies Power and Control project (DTPC) hosted a workshop for stakeholders on the 25thMay, 2021. It brought together a range of organisations, all of whom were keen to discuss trust, identity, privacy and security (TIPS) in the digital age.

During the workshop, there was a focus upon the people who use digital technology to access products or services and not the organisations who purvey them. 

This user-focussed theme first emerged during a discussion on identity. Stakeholders were asked to consider the words ‘identity’ and ‘technology’ and how these words related to their end users. One participating organisation had launched a system designed to help individuals stay in control of their identity online. The organisation conceded that for them, identity was primarily a technical discussion. They were concerned with how to represent identity in digital data. The organisation aimed to create a digital footprint in the guise of a digital ‘wallet’ or ‘life locker’. These virtual items are to contain different associations (e.g., scout membership; supermarket card) and bring them together in one place. The organisation saw the system as a way for persons to assert credential assets themselves, rather than getting told what to do with their identifiable data.

By contrast, identity was also thought of as where someone lives, their socio-economic status and who they live with, for example. Some of these attributes were believed challenging to replicate in the digital sphere. To illustrate this issue, the concept of ‘personhood’ was discussed. Personhood acknowledges that a person is: a member of a moral community, someone conscious who can reason, someone who communicates and remains self-aware. Condensing personhood into abstract data destined for algorithmic processing was therefore thought to be an acute challenge. To resolve this issue, speakers differentiated between ‘identification’ and ‘identity’:

  • Identification is the action or process of identifying someone or something.
  • Identity is about those qualities, interests, beliefs, personality, appearance and/or expressions that define a person or a group. 

Next week we will post a summary of the workshop discussion around privacy.

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