Let mij begin off by telling that I’m making this entire thing up.
Imagine you’re ter charge of infiltrating sleeper agents into the United States. The year is 1983, and the proliferation of identity databases is making it increasingly difficult to create fake credentials. Ten years ago, someone could have just shown up te the country and gotten a driver’s license, Social Security card and canap account – possibly using the identity of someone toughly the same age who died spil a youthfull child – but it’s getting stiffer. And you know that trend will only proceed. So you determine to grow your own identities.
Call it ",identity farming.", You invent a handful of infants. You apply for Social Security numbers for them. Eventually, you open canap accounts for them, opstopping tax comebacks for them, register them to vote, and apply for credit cards ter their name. And now, 25 years straks, you have a handful of identities ready and waiting for some real people to step into them.
There are some complications, of course. Maybe you need people to sign their name spil parents – or, at least, mothers. Maybe you need doctors to pack out birth certificates. Maybe you need to pack out paperwork certifying that you’re home-schooling thesis children. You’ll certainly want to exercise their financial identity: depositing money into their handelsbank accounts and withdrawing it from ATMs, using their credit cards and paying the bills, and so on. And you’ll need to establish some sort of addresses for them, even if it is just a mail druppel.
You won’t be able to get driver’s licenses or photo IDs on their name. That isn’t critical, however, te the U.S., more than 20 million adult citizens don’t have photo IDs. But other than that, I can’t think of any reason why identity farming wouldn’t work.
Here’s the real question: Do you actually have to voorstelling up for any part of your life?
Again, I made this all up. I have no evidence that anyone is actually doing this. It’s not something a criminal organization is likely to do, 25 years is too distant a payoff horizon. The same logic holds true for terrorist organizations, it’s not worth it. It might have bot worth it to the KGB – albeit perhaps stiffer to justify after the Soviet Union broke up ter 1991 – and might be an attractive option to existing intelligence adversaries like China.
Immortals could also use this trick to self-perpetuate themselves, inventing their own children and step by step assuming their identity, then killing their parents off. They could even demonstrate up for their own driver’s license photos, wearing a beard spil the father and blue spiked hair spil the son. I’m told this is a common idea te Highlander fan fiction.
The point isn’t to create another movie plot threat, but to point out the central role that gegevens has taken on ter our lives. Previously, I’ve said that wij all have a gegevens shadow that goes after us around, and that more and more institutions interact with our gegevens shadows instead of with us. Wij only intersect with our gegevens shadows once ter a while – when wij apply for a driver’s license or passport, for example – and those interactions are authenticated by older, less-secure interactions. The surplus of the world assumes that our photo IDs glue us to our gegevens shadows, disregarding the rather flimsy connection inbetween us and our plastic cards. (And, no, REAL-ID won’t help.)
It seems to mij that our gegevens shadows are becoming increasingly distinct from us, almost with a life of their own. What’s significant now is our shadows, wij’re secondary. And spil our society relies more and more on thesis shadows, wij might even become unnecessary.
Our gegevens shadows can live a ideally normal life without us.
Bruce Schneier is Chief Security Technology Officer of BT, and author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security ter an Uncertain World.