Online identity - does anyone care?

QDOS Beta Launches

I attended the beta launch of the new product from Garlik, QDOS on Wednesday in London. The QDOS product recognizes your online presence - the information about you that is held online, in various databases that are accessible via the world wide web.

This information exists on webpages that you have signed up and provided details to, in search index databases and in the Deep Web. This can be added to records that are in the public domain, such as voter records, property and automobile registrations, court files and professional and business licenses. Simply using this information begins to build a rich picture of you as an individual.

The team at Garlik have mined that information for the entire population of adults in the United Kingdom and are making this available online. To pique interest, they have created a QDOS score that has 4 dimensions: Popularity, Impact, Activity and Individuality. Once you have checked your own score, you will be able to compare it to any other person, something that will be naturally irresistible.

So what?

Well, once you see that you have an online presence you will be given the opportunity through the QDOS service to take control of that identity by correcting, updating and amending that information. In fact this is exactly what I have been trying to acheive on this site at Who Is Gammydodger and Too Much Information, but it has taken me some time to catalog where my information exists and to start making it available to whomever I want.

Those last couple of words are the most significant in this whole piece, in fact on this whole blog. I want control over my identity, whether it be online or offline:

  • Firstly because my privacy is my right - I should be able to choose who knows what about me and when.
  • Secondly to allow me to leverage my online reputation - as the online world becomes an inherent part of the real world (employers or partners finding out about you online is as real as it comes).
  • and Thirdly because the more information about me is out there uncontrolled, the greater the risk of my identity being compromised and real world assets stolen.

I recognize that my information is becoming more and more valuable not simply to me, but to other people, to businesses and government. I want to be in a position where I have control over this personal asset.

Maybe Tomorrow

Those of us who are self-confessed privacy geeks, who unfortunately may have been a victim of identity crime, who have a burning passion to understand their portrait in the digital world will find QDOS interesting at the very least. Yet I wonder how much time the general population will want to spend on this, particularly as their digital identity is only an abstract concept to them. Increasing data compromises and publicity regarding identity theft may cause a few more to want to begin to manage their data.

I believe that when their digital picture really begins to work for or against them in real world situations, people will begin to pay attention. For instance if they are denied a college place, a job or a social benefit because of some information found online, they will want to redress that situation using a product like QDOS. Or as I discuss in the post Am I naked online, will the new net-generation just be able to manage that as second nature?

Is a QDOS score of 900 any good?

Finally what was my QDOS score? A little tricky really because I have moved around so much and I have names that I use officially and names that I use socially. For instance Gammydodger, my online pseudonym does not even register despite returning 8 pages on a Google search.

So my real name at the last known UK address scored 893 and at the address before that scored 900 and the one before that 900. So what is my QDOS score and is it representative of me? Probably not as it stands, the name it uses is from my voting records, a name that I don't normally use.

What would Gammydodger do?

QDOS allows me insight into all of that information and will allow me, if I chose, to join all of that information and to raise my score. The question is, given that I have spent so long cultivating the public Gammydodger identity, do I want to reblend it with all of my other identities?

Bibliography

  1. Invisible or Deep Web, a tutorial from UCBerkley Library
  2. Deep Web on Wikipedia
  3. Public Records on the Internet:The Privacy Dilemma from Privacy Rights
  4. Identity Theft and the Emperor's New Clothes by Gam Dias on this blog
  5. Am I naked online by Gam Dias on this blog
  6. Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws by the Federal Reserve Board
  7. Do a background check on yourself from the Consumerist
  8. What to do when they ask for your Social Security Number by Chris Hibbert at totse.com

A few Identity Protection Services

These organizations are also in the space