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Minding the Identity Gaps

This paper by David Porteous and Ignacio Mas highlights that we should not get caught up in the idea that digital identity is fundamentally—or even primarily—about your full name and a legal ID number. Your digital identity is clearly about you, but it is less clear exactly what about you it is meant to represent. Ultimately, what notion of identity we need will depend on the context and on what issue it is supposed to help resolve.

This perspective brings together the two key aspects at the heart of most identity problems: security—the confidence with which one can establish an identity and privacy—the control over what personal information is revealed and disseminated. When
security and privacy are not handled appropriately, a lack of trust arises between social identities, between customers and providers, and between citizens and the state. This article also explores the nature of this lack of trust and what can be done about it.

David Porteous
David has been involved in finance inclusion initiatives internationally for more than two decades. He received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Cape Town, and later obtained an M.Phil in economics from Cambridge and a PhD (Economics) from Yale. David has held executive roles in public and private financial institutions in Africa, and is the founder and CEO of BFA, a consulting firm based in Boston.

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