The Secret of Nym – April 2015

The Secret of Nym – April 2015

This month I was honored with an invitation to speak at the IDESG Virtual Plenary. The IDESG is the group designated to create a framework to address Obama’s NSTIC strategy regarding identity issues with online services. My talk was half an introduction to “Nym issues”, such as the Native American Dana Lone Hill being suspended from Facebook, and half a discussion about how these issues can be addressed within the IDESG Framework.

I proposed the following suggestions: that we continue the discussion to develop a robust vocabulary, including sensible definitions for words like “anonymous” and “pseudonymous”; that we craft a suggested “names policy” for organizations considering whether they need to adopt one; and that we introduce suggested transparency and remediation procedures, so that someone using a service like Facebook knows *why* their account has been suspended, and they have a channel to negotiate with the service.

While the IDESG Framework can technically only offer suggestions of guidelines for organizations to follow, I think that the final product will carry enough weight to have really positive influence. If nothing else, these additions could give organizations an informed choice on how to adopt policy.

Nym Factoid of the Month:
The United States does not have any mandatory identity document. While most people assume that the social security number is de facto, you are actually only forced to register for one if you are born in a hospital. In fact, social security cards explicitly say on them that they are not to be used for identification. Over the years, this has changed socially, mostly because of use by the military, medical facilities, and financial institutions, all of whom needed a common unique number to identify someone by. There is also no way to opt out of paying into social security, short of expatriation.

Nym-related Link:
Foebud Photo ID: For only 15 EUR, you can purchase a very realistic looking ID card from this German company. If you don’t have an address in Germany, you can pick one up at their booth at the Chaos Communications Congress event.


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