Ericsson Gets Philosophical About Identity

Ericsson is explaining the need for consistent digital identities in the emerging Internet of Things. In a Ericsson Technology Review publication, the company outlines how this is not only an issue of functionality – users need to be able to maintain consistent identities across services – but also one of security.Ericsson Gets Philosophical About Identity

The report is highly technical, starting with a definition of the concept of identity itself (“a set of attributes related to an entity,”  according to an ISO/IEC phrasing), and proceeding to tackle matter such as the arbitrary finitude ascribed to identities in certain contexts, and the overlapping domains and identities that can be used to trace one particular entity. But the main substance of the report is an exploration of identity management, and of its “lifecycle” – how the identities and their markers can change as an entity moves from one domain to another; for example, identification based on a device’s location will not suffice if that device suddenly appears in an entirely different place.

If it all sounds a bit abstract, it is. But these are some of the complex issues that need to be explored as increasing numbers of devices go online in the IoT. Ericsson has been very involved in developing network infrastructure for the IoT, and such abstract concepts will have very real implications for devices, their providers, and their users.