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Defining Digital Identity

Digital Identity, in its simplest form, is a digital means of establishing we are who we say we are. There are at least three types of digital identity in use today:

Identity issued by an identity provider: There are both public sector and private sector identity providers.

In the public sector, a state typically issues identification and uses it to recognize each person uniquely, to provide rights or entitlements.

Private sector identity providers — such as banks, tech companies, etc. — can also offer digital identity for access to commercial services.

In some cases, there may be crossover between the public and private sector identities.

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or what we watch, or data from other smart devices we use. Increasingly, such information can be used to identify us — or something about us — reasonably accurately, either through our own self-assertions or through the assessments of third-party algorithms.

Self-asserted and self-sovereign identity: In contrast to the means of identity provided by an external party, there are also identities or personas that we create for ourselves in the digital world where we choose how to portray ourselves and the claims we make. This category also includes identities or personas that use pseudonyms or other approaches to obscure all or part of our formal “legal” identity, thereby presenting ourselves as we want to be seen rather than embracing an identity provider’s definition. These identities are heavily oriented toward the preferences of a particular individual, but may offer claims that clash with those of established identity providers.

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