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Achieving Electronic Privacy

Posted by hs on December 6, 2005

Organizations are requiring ever-increasing amounts of information on individuals, linking it all up using a single identifier (SSN in US, NI in UK, and similar identifiers elsewhere). Although having more information helps in better decision making, it impinges on individual liberty. And having all information linked up also makes it a high-value target.

David Chaum presents an approach based on digital credentials in his article Achieving Electronic Privacy that appeared in August 1992 issue of Scientific American. The method involves using digital credentials that can be verified by the recieving organization without actually revealing the identity of the user. This helps users protect their individual liberties, while lowering costs for the organizations by providing them with authenticed information.

Use of Blind Signatures as proposed by Chaum and his colleagues provides for security & reliability in transactions while rendering them untraceable unless the user actually wants them to get traced.

Widespread use of this method can reduce a lot of data sharing hassles and resulting complications associated with them. Since the organizations can authenticate the identity of users without actually having to store any data, the chances of identity theft might also decrease.

Keywords: Electronic Privacy, Scientific American, Information, Individual Liberty, SSN, NI, David Chaum, Blind Signatures, PKI, Identity Theft

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