What private data have you unknowingly shared?
What photos and videos would you like to take-back? Introducing IBM Identity Mixer, an anonymous credential system developed at IBM Research that enables strong authentication and privacy at the same time.
The basic concept is very simple: personal data is best protected if not revealed at all, or if the amount of data is revealed it's kept to a minimum. The question then is how "minimum" is defined. And when data is provided, does it need to be the real data, such as the specific age or is it okay for the system just to know that the person is older than 18?
In this instance, the person's age could simply be replaced by a randomly chosen artificial number, or pseudonym, provided that, in an emergency, the hidden data could be retrieved.
Here are a few scenarios:
- Anybody who rents a car has to produce a valid driver's license, thereby - whether voluntarily or involuntarily - revealing a wealth of personal data. Actually, the car rental company only needs the name and address of the person renting a car in the event of an emergency. As long as there is no accident, it would suffice to know that the person renting a car is in possession of a valid driver's license. In this case, the data minimum could be quite easily achieved and the name and address on the driver's license could simply be replaced by a pseudonym.
- Anyone who books a hotel room will probably be registered in an electronic system with his or her name, home address and length of stay. This in itself may have numerous advantages, for the hotel, as well as, for the hotel guest, for example in terms of frequent-flyer mileage. On the other hand, a malicious hotel employee could supply the guest's home address to an accomplice for a low-risk burglary in the owner's absence.
- A regular customer of an online bookshop might appreciate receiving reading suggestions based on his or her specific preferences, but will be less than pleased if personal data is passed on to a third party, and the reading preferences are exploited for other purposes.
With no predefined form factor IBM Identity Mixer is flexible and can sit on an smart ID card, on a Web site or on your mobile phone.