Speaker, chairman, consultant… I am IAM

Me, myself and my digital I

The world is changing at break-neck pace. We are living in a world where the physical identity is more and more interwoven with our digital identity. We all have a few of those, but how about digital identity within education? On the Dutch-language website ChannelWeb, I advocated a digital identity to access all one’s studies and trainings.


Digital identity presents both opportunities and threats. On the one hand, using digital identities becomes increasingly easier, for instance in service provision. This is due to progressive worldwide digitisation. On the other hand, you will find that banking branches are closing, since people increasingly have to do their banking online. The younger generation no longer meets in public places but communicates through WhatsApp and Facebook. This may result in alienation, but the use of social media can also connect people, irrespective of time and place. Technology continues to develop quickly, with the consequence that laws and regulations are lagging behind.

Government bodies are currently discussing how government may restore citizens’ control of their own details, and what role the government plays in this development. In recent years, eRecognition, DigiD and eID (Idensys, among others) have been in the news quite a bit. Unfortunately, they do not all progress at the pace one might wish for, and the successor of DigiD, so desired by Dutch government, has not yet materialised, so that DigiD continues to be the spearhead. In this respect, collaboration with private parties is essential but poses a challenge as well.

Robert Garskamp, dagvoorzitter en sprekerAnother discussion concerns the use of data, also in view of the GDPR – implemented as the AVG in the Netherlands. One can see that businesses are still struggling with the GDPR. In December 2018, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) reported having received up to ten thousand citizen complaints about how organisations are using their personal data. In 2019 or 2020, EU privacy guidelines for metadata and communications are due. It is likely that they will have a yet bigger influence.

I think we will end up having just one digital identity in future, the way we have one physical identity. Obviously, that presents a challenge, for in the digital world it is possible to have various profiles and various roles: as a citizen, as a consumer, as a project manager for a global project…

In that respect, I think we have yet to invent the golden egg, although everyone is looking for solutions to ensure that fraud is banished, while maintaining the possibility to use your personal attributes – such as your age, your login, et cetera – for a wide range of applications. It is important that citizen and consumer remain in (or take) charge of their own identity.