Mike Phillips on Digital Citizenship

Mike Phillips, Chairman of Frank Russell Company and one of the most progressive thinkers I know about the convergence of digital identity and the real world of commerce and government, had this to say about the Laws and the Corollaries:

Kim Cameron is wonderfully refreshing and it is outlandish that he works for Microsoft in such a senior role. If his thoughts can prevail there maybe they are in for a whole new iteration of growth.

I think there is a relevance of digital identity to outsourcing. Outsourcing of jobs is not new, manufacturing jobs have been leaving the US for decades. The difference now is that people are physically located in one place (say, India) but essentially working in the US. This causes problems. Nations cannot tax, regulate or sanction these people. We clearly need to differentiate between someone’s physical identity, and their digital identity when it comes to the business process. We can regulate and have sanctions over people’s physical identity but it is tough right now to do this with their digital identity even in a self governing way.

Is it not likely that in the long term the issue of persistent identity becomes an issue of citizenship? We cannot regulate fungibility enabled by the digital world by attempting to control the atomic identities of people. We can only do it by regulating their digital identities. Once we can do that, it actually becomes easier than regulating atomic identity. In fact you can operate outside the realm of regulation and control of the atomic world. Transients, criminals, mountain men etc all do this. Given that one’s digital identity HAS to exist in a machine friendly environment, regulations, sanctions, rules actually are easier because one cannot exist in an alternative digital environment.

So maybe we will develop a dual citizenship structure over the next few decades; a physical identity or citizenship, and a digital one. Nation states are physical entities and the political process governing them will find it hard to cope with digital citizenship. Governments will find this very challenging, but there won’t be that much they can do about it. When things stabilize, digital citizenship will require some form of supra-national supervision and rule enforcement which goes well beyond the current policing structures of the Internet. Kim Cameron’s rules seem to be a great place to begin this process. An essential feature of this would seem to be self-empowerment and self-regulation.

This may be the human race’s only real hope of World government in the foreseeable future. As you listen to Drummond and Kim, the refreshing thing is that it has a chance of being global self government. As digital interaction between humans becomes more core to the economic life of the planet, the evolution of persistent digital identity into true citizenship is an exciting prospect. [The Laws and the Corollaries] hold the keys to the next steps. I am eagerly watching developments!

I’ve been telling Mike that he needs to start blogging. I’d be his first subscriber. I couldn’t agree more that the intersection of digital identity, commerce, and citizenship may the loudest noise in the Big Bang of a universal identity metasystem.


About Drummond Reed

Internet entrepreneur in identity, personal data, and governance frameworks
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