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The Internet is quickly becoming a natural meeting place of people, as is apparent from the popularity of social interaction sites such as YouTube, Second Life, MySpace, and Facebook, as well as the wide adoption of instant messaging and Internet voice. This is in addition to already being recognized as the most readily available source of information on just about any topic and a powerful catalyst of commerce. Simple, secure identity assertion -- the ability to present what is essential to establish enough trust to interact -- is one of those quantum enablers essential in allowing geographically dispersed interaction, whether it be with someone next door, or a system, or individuals halfway around the world. In the emerging era of hyperconnectivity, where the number of devices, nodes, and applications connected to the network far exceeds the number of people using the network, new methods are needed to represent and assert identity, so that users and systems can maintain full control over their credentials and identity details. The key is sharing just enough insight in each interaction to quickly establish sufficient trust, while preventing this information from being used or abused in some other context.

Identity should be asserted much more than it should be managed. Identity is a set of attributes of an entity -- a human, an application, or even a sensor. It must be recognized that, at times, "anonymous" is a valid and useful identity. Meaningful interactions are highly dependent on trust between the parties interacting. Trust itself is relative to each specific context, and different situations demand vastly different levels of trust. Unfortunately, if a third party knows most or all of the identity-related information of a specific entity, it is easy for them to falsely assume that identity. As the world of hyperconnectivity materializes, virtually every device will need to have one or more affiliations with one or more identities at any given time, and many permutations will exist. As a multitude of devices are enabled to interact over networks, ask yourself this: how will you decide which ones are yours or represent you, and whom they can play with in this new electronic sandbox?


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