Skip down to main content

The Management of Identity and Personal Information on the Internet: Public and Private Initiatives for Addressing the Problems

Date & Time:
16:3 - 18:00,
Thursday 7 June, 2007


There is much debate, and a number of competing initiatives, but the problems of identity and personal-information management over the Internet remain unsolved. These problems range from issues of convenience, such as requirements for multiple usernames and passwords, to the inability to carry out many transactions that require authentication of the user, to the security of systems that hold personal information, including identity information. Why do these problems persist? What are the opportunities in sight for moving ahead, and what risks are entailed in mitigating these concerns, including the failure to address these issues?

The Oxford Internet Institute organized a public panel to discuss this topic. The event was be chaired by Jonathan Bamford of the Information Commissioner’s Office, begun with a keynote by Sir David Normington, the permanent secretary at the Home Office. He was followed by Professor Brian Collins, who combines the roles of academic, civil servant, and IT practitioner; and by Dr Stefan Brands, an expert in privacy-enhancing technologies.

This event is supported by the Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network (an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry), by the Information Commissioner’s Office, and by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

Watch the recordings of this event:

Management of Identity and Personal Information on the Internet: Panel Session

Management of Identity and Personal Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers

Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)


Jonathan Bamford

Assistant Information Commissioner

Jonathan Bamford joined the staff of the Data Protection Registrar when the office was first established in early 1985. He has remained through the transition to Information Commissioner with the introduction of the Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Information Commissioner enforces this legislation in the UK. Jonathan is Assistant Commissioner with the role of Director of Data Protection Development. His main duties focus on data protection policy development and promotion. He leads the ICO’s work on ‘surveillance society’ issues and on developments such as e-Borders, electronic health records, ID cards and video surveillance. He is involved in the ICO’s international data protection duties and is a member of the joint supervisory authorities for Europol and the Customs Information System. He also represents the UK at the meetings of the Schengen Information System Joint Supervisory Authority.

Dr Stefan Brands

President and Founder of Credentica; Adjunct Professor at McGill University.

Dr Stefan Brands is, as a journalist neatly put it, the only person on the planet to have worked for both previous attempts to commercialize privacy: Digicash and Zero Knowledge Systems. He is currently president and founder of a Canadian software firm, Credentica, and an adjunct professor at McGill University. He holds a PhD in Mathematics, and has a significant portfolio of patents. He has served on the external advisory board of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Professor Brian Collins

Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Transport; Professor of Information Systems at Cranfield University

Professor Brian Collins combines the roles of IT practitioner, senior academic and civil servant. Currently he is chief scientific adviser to the Department for Transport, and a professor of information systems at Cranfield University. In the past he has been: Vice-President of the British Computer Society; the international director of information technology at the largest commercial law firm in the world, Clifford Chance; head of information systems at the Wellcome Trust; and director of science and technology at GCHQ. He has been interested in the topic of identity management for some years, having served as special adviser to the Home Affairs select committee enquiry into the national Identity Card programme.

Sir David Normington

Permanent Secretary of the Home Office
Sir David Normington is the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, a post to which he moved in January 2006 following his service in an equivalent role at the Department for Education & Skills. Both roles give him standing in the debate about the future of identity management across the public and private sectors in the UK. Moreover, Sir David chairs the pan-Whitehall Identity Management Strategy Group, established following the Varney Report in 2006. This work positions him at the centre of debate within UK Government about the core issues of citizen identification and authentication for ‘transformational government’. At the Home Office, and among many other roles, he is ultimately responsible for successful delivery of the national Identity Card programme. His experience at DfES gives him a detailed knowledge of the education sector, and thus the ability to judge whether innovative approaches to identity management in education and other public services may succeed.

Related Topics