Digital identity

In an increasingly digital world personal data (or information about individuals’ digital lives) is evolving. This might include data relating to business transactions (such as online shopping), but also to the way people present themselves to the world, either individually or collectively, through social media, including how personal data is managed posthumously. It might take into account the multiplicity of identities that make up our digital selves. Digital identity describes how the data or information referring to people is created, captured, managed, verified and (ab)used by themselves and/or others (individuals, businesses or government) in life and death. Intentionally or unintentionally, we create a "digital footprint" that is a (true or false) virtual reflection of our physical self.

Developing new technology and adapting existing digital systems that accounts for peoples' different behaviours online, cultural differences and differing levels of digital literacy is an essential element of this priority. Understanding how data sources can be brought together to be mined collectively for political, economic or social use or simply to allow an individual to retrieve all the information about them in one place in order to manage and protect during life and after death (either human or digital) are important research challenges. The relationship between our virtual and physical self and how the digital and physical world are connected and how multiple, digital projections of self for good or bad also pose new research challenges.

The Digital Identity priority could provide research into digital standards and address challenging ethical and legal questions such as who owns data or the information generated from data sources, the retrospective use or withdrawal of data and the use of data surveillance. This priority is linked closely to real-world examples such as parental controls, organisational control and malware.

Research in Digital Identity will create a generation of cross-disciplinary (Digital economy) researchers with expertise across digital technology, psychology, sociology, criminology, law, economics and behavioural sciences. Centres for Doctoral Training graduates will explore new methodologies, including both qualitative and participatory methods to engage with users.