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Identity Management and Privacy: A Rare Opportunity To Get It Right



Ari M. Schwartz


Since 1976, when Whitfield Diffie and Martin Helleman, first surmised the possibilities for the potential uses for digital signatures in an IEEE publication, there has been ongoing discussion of building an online identity management structure. As use of the Internet has become more central to daily life and our financial and physical security has become intertwined with cyber security, the calls to authenticate and identify individual users has increased. However, we still have not seen a single set of answers to these issues that offer a path to an interoperable identity management system that will achieve the goals of 1) authenticating users at different levels of risk; 2) keep the Internet as an innovative and growing hub for the world’s interactions; and 3) build trust among Internet users. Therefore, it is easy to be doubtful and even cynical that we can build an identity management infrastructure that is voluntary, privacy-protective, secure and interoperable. However, over the next few years, we have a rare opportunity to build such a system and this opportunity may be our last.
Communications of the ACM


identity management, privacy, cyber security, internet


Schwartz, A. (2011), Identity Management and Privacy: A Rare Opportunity To Get It Right, Communications of the ACM, [online], (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created June 1, 2011, Updated January 27, 2020