To help me frame the Laws of Identity in a practical way, I took on a scenario presented to me by Eric Norlin and began to drill into it to expose the technology issues it presented in terms of identity. Part of this scenario involved using a bluetooth connection between a Polycomm and a Bluetooth phone.
I knew virtually nothing about Bluetooth at that point, and so had to learn. I studied the Bluetooth web site, and then approached Noel Anderson, a Program Manager in Networking at Microsoft. He was kind enough to give me an introductory tutorial about Bluetooth identity issues which I recorded as an Identity Interview with Noel Anderson. I found Noel fascinating, and Craig Burton thought our discussion was interesting enough to transcribe some of it: In particular, I thought Noel's example of an “identity bomb” taught us a lot about the underlying technology issues:
When we were writing the paper we wanted to catch attention so we came up with the idea of the Bluetooth bomb. Every Bluetooth device has a 48—bit unique ID number, which is possible to either query for directly or in a broadcast mode. So we came up with the concept of a low power Bluetooth device which was attached to a weapon that was querying for a particular device ID so that when the target cell phone or PDA or another Bluetooth device came into range it would activate the [bomb] device.
Noel told me that things were being done to fix the protocols. But I was initially more interested in Bluetooth as an example of how privacy issues affect identity, and didn't immediately tune into the details of the fixes.
Then Mike Foley, who is the organizer of the special interest group that is fixing these problems, contacted me. I offered to interview him so everyone could learn about what his organization was doing. As he began to tell me about the work that is going on to fix the identity problems, I was not only relieved, but amazed at how the fixes themselves demonstrated the dynamics of the Laws of Identity hard at work. Bluetooth having been out of conformance with the Laws, concerns about the marketplace motivated its technologists to fix the technology.
When Mike talks about the water that has flowed under the bridge of privacy since Bluetooth was first envisaged in the late 1990s, you really get a feeling for how there are objective factors shaping the emergence of identity technology. And his discussion of how identifiers work (in conjunction with what we learned from Noel) teaches us a lot about the relationship between identifiers and privacy.
So here's the Identity Interview with Mike Foley as an mp3 (22 minutes). It's really fun when we are talking about the Fourth Law of Identity… Mike also invites those of us who are serious about identity to join the SIG.
By the way, I plan to publish a series of Identity Interviews to accompany the blog, so this will become a regular feature.