Identity is important to human beings. We need to find a way to differentiate ourselves from one another. It is integral to our uniqueness and when you think about it, vital to our need for self-expression.
It is amazing to see how this need is translated in the Internet. Handles have taken the role of names and avatars have become a replacement for our appearances. Perhaps we do not notice it anymore but the more personalized a website account can get, the better it is supposed to be. The more our internet identity can mimic our true selves, the more we patronize a particular website or internet service.
When it comes to business or work related accounts, this preference becomes an absolute imperative. It is fascinating to see how the Internet has evolved to accommodate this need. Personal Identity Numbers (PINs) have taken the role of access codes to our accounts, credit card numbers have become the mode of choice in validating online transactions, and a variety of websites now require a slew of personal questions as part of their registration process. The need to unify our internet identities to our actual identities become so important that detailed personal information have become portals, access points to our online identities.
But the truth is we are not who we are in the Internet. These accounts are mere reflections of our true self, extended to the Internet for purposes of ease and convenience. What happens then should they get tampered or perhaps even stolen?
Canada recently passed bills proposing amendments to their Criminal Code. The bills seek to punish not only identity theft but also recklessness such as the absence of precautions around securing customer personal data. The bill was made as part of a growing concern over access to personal information in the Internet, indicating thus the gravity of the problem. Identity in the Internet is susceptible to attack as personal information, due to the nature of the electronic word, is not as easy to protect. It is a problem that we all share as the Internet is borderless, a medium that transcends states boundaries and jurisdiction.
I have yet to hear of legislation addressing similar concerns in the Philippines. Our closest bet may perhaps be the e-commerce act. It is easy to oversee the problem of not having applicable laws as we do not have a developed system for online transactions here in the Philippines. But then again, it may be possible that we do not have a developed system precisely because we do not have the laws.
Elgene L. C. Feliciano