Centre for Internet & Society

When we embarked on this research project, we began with the primary questions of what constitutes a digital identity system. In the last few years, with the rise in national digital identity projects, there has been significant academic and media attention to the idea, benefits and risks of a digital identity system.

However, there have been relatively few attempts to critically look at what makes an identity system digital, and what are its defining elements and characteristics. Through a preliminary study of existing identity systems, we have arrived at these core set of concepts and processes that mark a digital identity system. In arriving at this list, we have relied upon and referred to the works by Dave Birch et alWorld Bank’s ID4D initiativeMawaki ChangoKaliya Young and Kayode Ezike.

By publishing this, we hope to arrive at a shared vocabulary to discuss and critically analyse digital identity systems, both within our team and in engagements with other stakeholders. This illustrated and interactive glossary can serve as an easy reference for anyone seeking an introduction to the core aspects of digital identity. Even though this is essentially a list of definitions with examples, it does not follow an alphabetical order like most glossaries, but the logical flow of concepts as they build upon each other in a working identity system. We have paid special emphasis to the core processes of Identification and Authentication, elucidating them through diagrams.

Click to read more


Credentials:

Research by Shruti Trikanad and Amber Sinha 
Conceptualization by Pooja Saxena and Amber Sinha
Illustrations by Akash Sheshadri and Pooja Saxena

The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of their individual authors. Unless the opposite is explicitly stated, or unless the opposite may be reasonably inferred, CIS does not subscribe to these views and opinions which belong to their individual authors. CIS does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the views and opinions of these individual authors. For an official statement from CIS on a particular issue, please contact us directly.