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D-CENT: Research on digital identity ecosystems

This report presents a concrete analysis of the latest evolution of the identity ecosystem in the big data context

This report presents a concrete analysis of the latest evolution of the identity ecosystem in the big data context, focusing on the economic and social value of data and identity within the current digital economy. This report also outlines economic, policy, and technical alternatives to develop an identity ecosystem and management of data for the common good that respects citizens’ rights, privacy and data protection.

Key findings

  • This study presents a review of the concept of identity and a map of the key players in the identity industry (such as data brokers and data aggregators), including empirical case studies of identity management in key sectors.
  • In the digital economy, the business models of the big tech companies are largely based on gathering and maximising the utility of the personal data they collect on their users. The stock value of these companies (mainly based in Silicon Valley) is based on the near future monetary value expectation of their data gathering abilities.
  • “Surveillance Capitalism” is the new economic model by which companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are able to track, measure and monetise every user activity linked to the platforms through intense data extraction, data analysis, continuous monitoring, prediction and related commodification.
  • Algorithms, machine learning and computer- based data analytics are especially important for the evolving paradigm of big data, a big part of which involves creating profiles about people’s psychology, preferences and (online) behaviour, which can then in turn be used to create comprehensive consumer profiles and exercise targeted online advertisements with great success and revenue.
  • The “datafication” of individuals’ social lives, thoughts and moves is a valuable commodity and constitutes the backbone of the “identity market” within which “data brokers” (collectors, purchasers or sellers) play key different roles in creating the market by offering various services such as fraud, customer relation, predictive analytics, marketing and advertising.
  • Economic, political and technical alternatives for identity to preserve trust, privacy and data ownership in today’s big data environments are formulated. The report looks into access to data, economic strategies to manage data as commons, consent and licensing, tools to control data, and terms of services. It also looks into policy strategies such as privacy and data protection by design and trust and ethical frameworks. Finally, it assesses technical implementations looking at identity and anonymity, cryptographic tools; security; decentralisation and blockchains. It also analyses the future steps needed in order to move into the suggested technical strategies.

Authors

Francesca Bria, Gemma Galdon Clavell, Javier Ruiz, José María Zavala, Laura Fitchner, Harry Halpin

Part of
D-CENT

Authors

Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria

Senior Project Lead

Francesca Bria was a Senior Project Lead in the Innovation Lab. She was EU Coordinator of the D-CENT project on direct democracy and social digital currencies and principle investiga...

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