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Mobile identity management: An enacted view

by George Roussos, Don Peterson, Uma Patel
International Journal of Electronic … ()


Roussos, George Peterson, Don Patel, Uma Mobile identity management: An enacted view (2003) Appeared in:International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 81-101, Fall 2003. “Mobile businesswill be the main driving force for the next phase of electronic commerce growth because the rapid adoption of second-generation mobile telecommunication systems has created a market opportunity of several hundred million consumers worldwide. […]Usabilityandtrustare crucial success factors for the provision of mobile services. […] In this context, trust is primarily dependent on the perceptionthat identification credentials,financial transactions, andpersonal profileare kept secure and private.” [p. 81] The authors suggest that anmobile identity managementis a good approach to come to terms with both the issue oftrustand that ofusability, which they label as the key critical factors in the (future) success of mobile business [p. 81-82]. They state that previously mobile business infrastructures have always focused onidentification, rather thanidentity. Identification is astatic concept, whereasidentityisdynamic,flexible, andsituational. [p. 82] They argue that anenacted viewof identity is necessary for mobile businesses, which views “…mobile business asan open-ended sociotechnical production—a mass of particular actions taken as individuals and groups make their own uses of technologies. The result may be dynamic, unpredictable, and strongly mediated by the idiosyncrasies, needs, and preferences of individuals and groups.” [p. 82] Roussos et al. then turn to a discussion ofidentityand the ways in which it differs fromidentification. They write: “Digital identification systems have been used for decades to record and preserve electronic representations of personal information, including name, address, phone number, and demographics […]. The emergence of the Internet as a common communications infrastructurerequires that digital identification become digital identity, the basis of the digital-self. Identity systems materialize not only as the keeper of personal electronic information (credit card numbers, biometrics, personal health records, personal preferences) but as the channel through which individuals communicate, interact, transact, share reputations, and create trust relationships with other people, businesses, and devices. The operations performed to support the lifecycle of a digital identity are referred to asidentity management. The difference between identification and identity is pivotal to the discussion in this paper.Identificationis a restricted concept that refers to some combination of facets by which an entity is recognized. […] Whereas identification is a static concept, the concept ofidentityor the digital self is altogether more dynamic because it is arguablysituated, negotiated, and underpinned by trust. It is a core premise of this paper that whereas the current dominant design paradigm is concerned with solutions to the management of digital identification, consumers perceive and behave as if digital identification were a synonym for digital identity.” [p. 82-83] The authors distinguish three forms in whichidentityismobile: 1. From device to device [p. 83] 2. From physical location to physical location [p. 83] 3. From context to context (“…where a person receives services based on different societal roles: as a professional, a sports fan, a parent, and so on.” [p. 83]) Also, mobile identity has threecomponents: 1. Identification: “Identification is the association of a set of tangible and structured credentials with a particular person that is valid within a particular formal system and can be used to explicitly distinguish the individual from any other in the same system.” [p. 84] 2. Payment: identification is necessary in order for mobile payments to be made, but in the case of payment transactions there is an additional element that sets them apart from regulation identification matters: the two parties involved are “…usually bound by a contractual agreement, and thus the appropriate commercial law regulates use of identification data.” [p. 84] 3. Personalization: “Context-aware service delivery is a fundamental requirement for mobile users because the place where their mobile device attaches to the network continually changes, the mobile unit has a small screen and limited resources (including computational power and battery), and the bandwidth offered by wireless communications is narrow […]. Context-awareness is required for both the application functionality and the content delivered. A significant element of context is identity and thus personal profile […].” [p. 85] The authors conclude that apersonal profileis a crucial element of mobile identity. The way a personal profile is constructed can be brought about in two ways: byexplicit personalization(composing lists of personal preferences), or byimplicit personalization(where the technology harvests relevant information about the user’s preferences). The authors argue that for mobile business to become booming it is of crucial importance to elevate consumers’trustand heightenusability[p. 86-87]. Also, services will need to bepersonalizedandcontext-aware[p. 87]. Newarchitecturesare emerging, sometimes calledubiquitous computing, sometimespervasive computingand sometimesfourth-generation (4G) computing. “Whatever name is selected, it refers to apervasive fabric of intelligent instruments,appliances, information sources, andinformation-analysis toolsall tied together by high-speedwired and wireless networksthat may include personal software service agents that remove the burden of constantly searching for, gathering, and analyzing information in a data-rich environment.” [p. 90] Then the authors describe some empirical research they have conducted, in which different groups of people were questioned about and placed in a pervasive computing supermarket scenario, with product suggestions and shopping aides based on personal profiling. Roussos et al. conclude the following: 1. Participants were concerned withprivacy and security– they felt uncomfortable with the fact that information they had given in their home environments was available in the shopping environment without their explicit consent. [p. 93] 2. They did not trust a service party with their personal information. 3. They found the shopping experience to be too technology-controlled. 4. They felt the system was patronizing since it could predict their wishes. [p. 93]. Then the authors present the most interesting part of the article. They argue that in order to make mobile business transactions a success, theenacted viewof identity is key. They write: “Theenacted viewargues that ignoring individual human agency in the actual and day-to-day use of technologies leads to an artificial and nonuseful understanding of their success […]. Hence,one must attend to “technologies-in-use,” that is, the actual results of introducing technologies into particular situations, contexts, tasks, and communities, rather than just to “espoused technologies,” that is, general expectations about the functions of systems. The use of mobile business technology, then, issituated, and identity is a crucial dimension of its crucial dimension of this state. Mobile communications, the Internet, andconsumer electronics technologies are not exploited in a vacuum but within human relationships, and these relationships, in turn, are mediated by issues of identity. Thus, issues oftrust,rights,duties,expectations, andprivacyare central to the use of technology, and are not subsidiary or occasional “human factors.” Since identity is intrinsic to mobile business, it must be addressed appropriately lest the growth of mobile business be impeded.” [p. 93-94] Roussos et al. come up withthree principlesthat should become the center of attention with regards to mobile business. These are: 1. Thelocality principle: this states that “…identities aresituatedin particular contexts, relationships,roles, and communities, and one may have different or overlapping identities attaching to differentcontexts.” [p. 94] The authors state that since identity is alwayssituatedit makes no sense to createglobalprofiles for people in mobile business. Also, the authors argue that since identity is connected to situations and people thus have different identities in different contexts, it is important for them to feel that they have come amount ofcontrolover the different identity profiles. [p. 94] The authors useGoffman’s work to show that identity is bound up withsituations. 2. Thereciprocity principle: this states that “…both sides in a relationship need to know what is going on so that they can check and correct one other’s perceptions.” [p. 94] This principle refers to matters ofprivacyandsecurity. It “…implies that collecting identity data by tracking the activities of individuals will beunacceptable if it is not reciprocal. A relationship is nonreciprocal and asymmetrical if one does not know who is collecting the data, how the data will be used, how to correct errors in the data, and whether to expect a return. Since part of the relationship is invisible to the consumer, it is not possible to influence the identity one has for the other party. This is certainly true for most of the electronic commerce technologies currently in use, including mobile business, but as technology becomes more pervasive and ambient, informational asymmetry of this kind will increase.” [p. 95] 3. Theprinciple of understanding: this states that “…consumers need to understand the service provider, and vice versa.” [p. 95]. The authors refer to the fact that consumer-to-consumer business (such as EBay) has shown that it is very important for buyers to understand the seller’s reputation and have some knowledge of his previous behaviors in contacts with other buyers. They conclude that a lack of trust between buyers and businesses may lead to a seri

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