Reply to post: What's identity?

'Identity skills shortage' will be problematic for Verify ID. (So not the TECH FAILS, then?)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

What's identity?

ISTM that theyre dealing with a very slippery concept.

Someone presents himself at a web site or office claiming to be John Smith.

Under UK law anyone can change their name to anything they want providing they're not doing so for nefarious purposes. One individual has variously adopted the names Jake Mangelwurzle & The Occupier. So providing that the person calling himself John Smith isn't up to some trickery he is a John Smith.

But is he the John Smith on the birth certificate he's carrying (small print on the bottom of a BC says that it isn't proof of identity)? Is he the John Smith whose NIN is XY123456Z? Is he the John Smith who passed his driving test at Much Binding in the Marsh in 1972? Is he the John Smith convicted of GBH at the Old Bailey in 2001? Is he the John Smith who owns the credit cards he's holding with that name on them? His employers and neighbours may confirm he is John Smith but they only know that because he told them.

From as data analysis perspective "John Smith" is simply a non-unique character string linked to a number of different attributes. The scope for mis-linking some of the attributes is considerable.

What does the particular department's requirements in identifying him, not just as John Smith but as some particular John Smith out of many - which are the attributes which matter to them? Do other departments have the same requirements?

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