Identity in Digital Government

4 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2004

See all articles by L. Jean Camp

L. Jean Camp

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Informatics and Computing

Date Written: November 2, 2004


Identity and identifiers are tightly linked when both are confirmed on paper. In a world of paper, verified pseudonyms and conditional anonymity are impossibilities. Assumptions based on the paper identity system lead to flawed decisions in modern uses of failure-prone identifiers.

In this paper I begin by arguing that the use of the word, "identity", masks important social and technical complexities in developing digital identifiers. I describe how identity functions in a paper realm. I use the case of a traffic stop to illustrate how assertions of identity can increase rather than mitigate risks when the distinctions between identification, attribute verification and identity are confused. I conclude that misuses of identifiers are decreasing, not increasing, security.

Keywords: Privacy, security, cybersecurity

JEL Classification: L00, K00

Suggested Citation

Camp, L. Jean, Identity in Digital Government (November 2, 2004). Available at SSRN: or

L. Jean Camp (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Informatics and Computing ( email )

901 E 10th St
Bloomington, IN 47401
United States

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