Friday, January 07, 2005

Who owns the attributes?

Jim Kobielus has jumped fearlessly into the fray of trying to define the normative principles of identity, by synthesizing the proposals of some others in this space. It's a well thought out piece, with some excellent ideas and only one major flaw. Unfortunately, that flaw comes at the very top of the stack when Jim states:
Each person is the only legitimate owner of their identity, all manifestations of that identity, and all associated identity attributes.

While I'll go along with each person being the owner of his own identity, it is not true that the entity identified also owns "all associated attributes." An employee number, for example, is an attribute of that entity but it is created, maintained and removed (all attributes of ownership) by the issuing organization, not by the entity so identified. The same could be said of any "customer number" issued by a vendor to that entity - it's certainly an identity attribute but it also most certainly is in no way "owned" by the entity.

We must distinguish between data and attributes owned by the entity and those which are associated with the entity by but owned by others. All these attributes, though, should be capable of being federated into a single construct identifying the entity.

But read the rest of Kobielus' note for some interesting ideas.

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