Why Names Matter:How Online Identity is Deﬁning the Future of the Internet aestetix, SXSW
Do you... Google?
“Thankyouthankyouthankyou...”Actual discussions on privacy issuesThey listen to feedback! (gender privacy controls)Better interface and usability than FacebookIt’s so pretty!
... wait, wtf?
What *is* identity?
Does anyone know?
Deﬁning “identity”Identity is not the same thing as a nameName: a label that is used to identify a person,thing, or concept within a given context
Deﬁning “identity”Examples of context: Within a set group (con-goers, coworkers, staff) A particular location (Long Beach, Oakland, Berlin) A speciﬁc time (“morning”, 9PM, “last week”) An interest (“Joe likes baseball”)
Deﬁning “identity”Is identity internal or external? Self image (“id, ego and superego”) Reputation and the Citizen Kane style construct “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” --Oscar Wilde
Deﬁning “identity”Conclusions about identity? The meaning of “identity” is so complex that neither Shakespeare nor Gandhi can deﬁne it. Identity, by its very nature, is multifaceted. Since identity is context dependent, no person has one single identity.
Different types of namesBirth (certiﬁcate) name or given nameLegal name or “wallet” name (thanks, Skud)Government issued ID (DL, Passport, SSN)Student ID, Employee ID, Credit cardAccount information (medical records, variousbills, etc)
Different types of namesPseudonym (Nom de Plume) - a name that is notfound on any previously mentioned documents May not be linkable to a documentPolynym - a name consisting of multiple wordsMononym - a name consisting of one wordAnonym - a name representing anonymity
Historical Nom de PlumesPubliusEmperor Norton INicholas BourbakiRichard Bachman,Voltaire, Bronte Sisters, etc
Why do names matter?Penn Jillette’s MLK twitter mishap
Why do names matter?Penn Jillette’s MLK twitter mishap
Why do names matter?WikiLeaks Content versus sourcePorn WikiLeaksAOL and Netﬂix databasesWikipedia “Essjay” controversy
What are social networks?Examples of social networks: book groups corporations knitting circles events unions courtrooms a hobby or preference a cause a village or town a family
What are social networks?A “social network” is a force that brings people ortheir personas together on a regular basis.A “friend” is a person that you would choose to bein contact with.Social networks help solve namespace collisions
What are social networks?Intrapersonal versus interpersonal communication(Dr. Robin) Dunbar’s Number (1992)Dr. Cameron Marlow’s Facebook study (2009) HTTP://RICHARD-WILSON.BLOGSPOT.COM/2012/02/HEDGE-FUND-SOCIAL-NETWORKS.HTML
What are social networks?Why do hacker handlesmatter?Joseph Campbell - righthand and left hand path
Establishing Identity OnlineHTTP Headers: referer, access times, URLaccessed, request sequence, frequency of access,response headersUsing HTTP versus HTTPSAre IP addresses enough? EFF says no.How can a website conﬁrm that you are you?
Social Effects on PrivacyWhat does transparency mean?Is there such a thing as full transparency?Who decides how transparent we get to be?Active versus Passive communication of personalinformation
Privacy-Promoting TechUsing TorSelective loggingPrivacy and sharing settings on websitesRemailers (Hail Eris)
Problems with IdentitySockpuppets“Anonymous Coward”Cyber-stalkingDDoS attacks (Anonymous, etc)
Does Identity Matter?Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google: “The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [veriﬁed] name service for people. Governments will demand it.” (Techonomy, August 2010) “If you have something that you dont want anyone to know, maybe you shouldnt be doing it in the ﬁrst place."(CNBC Interview, December 2009)
Does Identity Matter?Mark Zuckerberg, CEO at Facebook: “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” (Interview, October 2011)
Does Identity Matter?Chris “moot” Poole, Founder of 4chan “The portrait of identity online is often painted in black and white. Who you are online is who you are ofﬂine. “Human identity doesnt work like that online or ofﬂine. Its not who you share with, its who you share as.’ Identity is prismatic.” (Web 2.0)
Online Social NetworksFacebook - synchronous friend requestsTwitter - asynchronous following (unless protected)Blog platforms - asynchronous (RSS feeds)Google Plus - asynchronous circlesDiaspora - asynchronous, decentralized
“Who Has Your Back” (EFF) https://whohasyourback.eff.org
Facebook PoliciesFrom Facebook’s “terms of service” “real names” is not deﬁned, seems case by case
Google Original “Real Names”The original policy from Community Standards: “13. Display Name: To help ﬁght spam and prevent fake proﬁles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of those would be acceptable.
Law and Order“[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision; nowlet him enforce it!” --President Andrew Jackson Both Facebook and Google Plus have a real names policy Let’s see how Google enforces theirs!
Appeal ProcessJuly 23, 2011 - Filled out the appeal formJuly 25, 2011 - “Neil” from the Google plussupport team contacts me to initiate process, IreplyJuly 26, 2011 - “Neil” ﬁrst tells me “Aestetix” is nota “common name”, asks me to conﬁrm it is mycommon name, I reply conﬁrming it is
Appeal ProcessJuly 27, 2011 - I get an email saying they “need agovernment issued ID to conﬁrm my name is‘Aesteix’.”I reply to this to conﬁrm they deﬁne a “commonname” exclusively as the name on a governmentissued ID. I also ask what their policy for handlinggovernment IDs is.
Appeal ProcessJuly 28, 2011 - “Your common name does nothave to be the name on your ID. ... I need to getthe name off your ID to conﬁrm that your name isaestetix.”My reply: “So if the name is the only thing youneed, can you use the information I provided in myappeal to make the same judgement? Imconfused as to why it must be a "governmentissued ID.”
Appeal Process“Thank you for contacting us with regard to the nameyou want to use with your Google Proﬁle. After furtherreview, we have determined that your name is within ourCommunity Standards policy. Thank you for your patiencewhile we reviewed your proﬁle name. I will trust it is yourreal name. Most users just try to explain that it is thepseudonym that they have always used.”
Appeal Process“Thank you for contacting us with regard to the name youwant to use with your Google Proﬁle. After further review,we have determined that your name is within ourCommunity Standards policy. Thank you for yourpatience while we reviewed your proﬁle name. I will trust itis your real name. Most users just try to explain that it isthe pseudonym that they have always used.”
Appeal Process“Thank you for contacting us with regard to the name youwant to use with your Google Proﬁle. After further review,we have determined that your name is within ourCommunity Standards policy. Thank you for yourpatience while we reviewed your proﬁle name. I willtrust it is your real name. Most users just try to explainthat it is the pseudonym that they have always used.”
This shit again?
I’m Not Alone!
I’m Not Alone!
Lessons learnedGoogle doesn’t know what a “common name” isGoogle is demanding sensitive information withoutany security procedures or policies in placeIf you know someone at Google, you’ll be ﬁneGoogle doesn’t have a clue what “identity” means.
Closing RemarksSteps in the right direction: Wikitrust.net Hypothes.is Diaspora (RIP IlyaZ)
Closing RemarksExplore decentralized systemsAll current solutions fail in some wayThere is no such thing as a “real name”Join or support efforts like Diaspora, Hypothesis,Wikitrust, etc