Crossing the Chasm of Consumer Consent

This week Open Identity Exchange publishes a white paper on the “ARPU of Identity”. The focus of the white paper is on how MNOs and telecommunications companies can monetize identity markets and thereby improve their average revenue per user, or ARPU. Its author and highly regarded data scientist, Scott Rice, makes a point that caught my eye. It’s the difficulty in federating identity systems because consumer consent requirements and implementations vary widely and are a long way from being interoperable. It got my attention because Open Identity Exchange and the GSMA lead pilots in the US and UK with leading MNOs with funding in part from government. The National Strategy on Trusted identity in Cyberspace and UK Cabinet Office Identity Assurance Program are helping fund pilots that may address these issues. Notice and consent involves a governmental interest in protecting the security and privacy of its citizens online. It’s a natural place for the private sector to leverage the public-private partnerships Open Identity Exchange has helped lead.

Notice and consent laws have been around for years. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, first published their seminal seven Privacy Guidelines in 1980. But in 1980, there was no world wide web nor cell phone. Credit bureaus, as we know them today, didn’t exist; no “big data” or data brokers collecting millions of data points on billions of people. What privacy law protected then was very different than what it needs to protect now. Back then, strategies to protect consumers were based on the assumption of a few transactions each month, not a few transactions a day. OECD guidelines haven’t changed in the last 34 years. Privacy regulations and, specifically, the notice and consent requirements of those laws lag further and further behind today’s technology.

In 2013 (and updated in March of this year), OIX Board Member company Microsoft, and Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute (OII) published a report outlining recommendations for revising the 1980 OECD Guidelines. Their report makes recommendations for rethinking how consent should be managed in the internet age. It makes the point that expecting data subjects to manage all the notice and consent duties of their digital lives in circa 2014 is unrealistic if we’re using rules developed in 1980. We live in an era where technology tools and governance rules assume the notice part of “notice and consent” requires the user to agree to a privacy policy. The pragmatic choice is to trust our internet transactions to “trusted” Identity Providers (IDPs), Service Providers (SPs) and Relying Parties (RPs). The SPs, RPs, IDPs, government and academic organizations that make up the membership of Open Identity Exchange share at least one common goal: increasing the volume, velocity and variety of trusted transactions on the web.

The GSMA, Open Identity Exchange and OpenID Foundation are working on pilots with industry leading MNOs, IDPs and RPs to promote interoperability, federation, privacy and respect for the consumer information over which they steward. The multiple industry sectors represented in OIX are building profiles to leverage the global adoption of open standards like Open ID Connect. Open identity standards and private sector led public-private partnership pilots help build the business, legal and technical interoperability needed to protect customers while also making the job of being a consumer easier.

Given the coincidence of pilots in the US, UK and Canada over the coming months, it is increasingly important to encourage government and industry leaders and privacy advocates to build on interoperability and standardization of consumer consent and privacy baked into standards like OpenID Connect brings to authentication.


Source:: Trusted Transactions