Dossier Identity Management

Handling multiple profiles

Users have to identify themselves in order to access many online services, as a result of which they end up with umpteen different profiles.

We spend our online lives tweeting, liking things on Facebook, networking on Xing, posting photos on Instagram and shopping on Amazon. Each of these activities requires a different profile consisting at the very least of a user name and a password. We normally set these profiles up without a second thought about what they might do or what might be done with them. This is perhaps not such a big deal with regard to some of our personal information – apart from, for example, being bothered by a constant stream of advertising for hotels in Bali and dating websites after booking a single room in Kuta Beach. However, certain details are sensitive, so we have to trust that the organisations we give them to will handle them with care. SWITCH is currently working on an identity for the academic community that is both centred on the individual and secure. It can be combined with other identities and also works outside the Web. It is called the Swiss edu-ID.