Digital Identity: Threat or Opportunity

Whether you are for or against a digital identity, the opportunity it brings is undeniable, but it does raise questions about threat and security?

In the digital age, people are increasingly using their digital identities as part of daily life. Whether to shop online, pay bills, apply for jobs, we interact as a ‘digital being’ on so many different levels.

In fact, in some instances using your digital identity is actually unavoidable when accessing businesses within evolving industries. Companies like Airbnb and Uber solely rely on secure digital identity for verification.

However, have you considered the implication of relying on this new digital footprint? Digital Identity is often discussed alongside the topic of security. It’s a thought-provoking topic, whether you are for or against a Digital Identity, the opportunity it brings is undeniably astronomical.

This was the topic chosen by Innovation Social for their first meet up of 2019. Innovation Social is a group of industry professionals who meet to discuss topics around innovation and how it can shape the future.

The Innovation Social meet up was sponsored by Cogs and hosted at George P Johnson’s new offices, Speakers included:
Tracey Follows, Founder, Future made
Peter Wells, Head of Policy, Open Data Institute (ODI)
Emma Skipper, Global Lead, The Sense Network


Here we share some of the fascinating takeaways from the event:

Tracey Follows Founder of Future made discussed what digital innovation means for us. She is writing a book currently on Digital Identity and covered some fascinating concepts. Which brought her to the point, that in a digitally driven world of personal and public identity, she asked, “who am I?”

What does it mean to be “me”?

In the 21st Century, this is an increasingly complex question. Should it be purely based on our DNA? The region of birth? Gender? Race? Your digital identity or your Facebook account? Also, What is it to be me, digitally?. Technologies act as intermediaries between us and our world. They can also influence who others think we are. Consider for example, when you manage to lock yourself out of your social account, how can you prove who you are to a machine? A faceless technology determines whether the “real you” can gain access to “your” social account.

How then does this affect future governments and wider social questions? Is our personal identity now under threat or being exploited by technology?

What about all these millions of digital identities that are created? Consider Lil Miquela – a CGI digital influence with millions of followers, yet she is not real. To her followers she is very much a real being yet her identity is totally fictional and yet she does exist in the world as we know it.

Peter Wells the Head of Policy from the Open Data Institute shared incredible insights into data and digital identity. The ODI works with companies to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem. Peter discussed the common threats associated with “digital identity” but also highlighted the incredible opportunities is brings.

The benefits of digital identity

Having a digital identity provides different groups incredible benefits, from citizens, businesses, to new intermediaries and governments. Digital identity enables us to purchase products faster and it creates a greater trust to be build between people and businesses. For businesses it can improve existing relationships offering personalised services, and support faster on-boarding.

Finally we heard from Emma Skipper from The Sense Network. They create exponential innovation tools, to help companies grow.

Privacy,  exclusion and bias

Emma discussed digital identifies when it comes to gaming. Individuals create avatars and fictional identities and yet they still make long-term friendships and relationships in this state. This suggests digital identities do not need to be real to create emotional connections.

It was also highlighted that the world of gaming can potentially open the door to innovation as people feel they are able to share ideas and concepts that in day to day life they might not be brave enough to share.

Emma also discussed digital identity and bias with regards to hiring. A digital identity can make or break a hire. She asked us to consider using digital identity as an opportunity to see individuals as a whole rather than a statistic. The aim is to design for a future where we level the playing field and remove bias, ultimately creating the most powerful teams possible.

This is a fascinating topic and one we cannot wait to see evolve in the future as the line between the real world and the digital, virtual world is increasingly blurred.

If you’re based in London and have a thirst for all things digital, why not check out Innovation Social and join us for the next meet up! Cogs work with a host of innovative clients in the fields of technology and design so please get in touch if we can help with any of your recruitment needs.

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