With the rapid digitization of services and the widespread adoption of the internet and smartphones among the masses in India, the digital realm is poised for phenomenal growth and is set to play an increasingly significant role in the future. Within this evolving landscape, several key players have emerged, including organizations whose websites we access and services we utilize, Big Tech platforms that serve as intermediaries, and, more recently, government entities . However, amidst this digital transformation, we must pause and reflect on our individual roles in this vast digital space.
Your Digital Identity: An Overview
What independent identity do you truly possess in the expansive digital universe? The answer, unfortunately, is rather succinct: very little. At best, you have your IP address, a non-personal signature of your device, which doesn't identify you as an individual but merely the device you are using. In the digital realm, your identity is inevitably facilitated by other actors and can even be impersonated. Social media platforms like Twitter grapple with distinguishing between human users and automated bots, highlighting the ongoing struggle for authentic digital identity.
Contrast that to the physical world - your face (analogous to biometrics), the ID cards you hold in your personal wallet, the documents you file in your personal folders and your relationships with people and businesses based out of mutual knowledge are an integral part of your identity.
In the digital realm, these relationships are often lopsided and working against you. To interact with a website or business, you're often required to create an account, surrendering control of your data and, in essence, your digital presence and identity. Even your interactions with other people on social media are mediated through Big Tech platforms and dependent on them. The situation has been so bad that many businesses and websites act as if they own the data they consume. This is a direct result of the inability of the digital ecosystem to provide ownership and control of data to the users.
Our digital identity is often a puzzle, with pieces scattered across various entities like online platforms, banks, government agencies, HR departments, and so many others. This has far-reaching consequences.
The Impacts of Fragmented Digital Identity