The Identity Metasystem: Towards a Privacy-Compliant Solution to the Challenges of Digital Identity


Work data:

Type of work: White Paper


Information Society | Participation | Usage & Uptake


Just as individual identity is fundamental to our face-to-face interactions, digital identity is fundamental to our interactions in the online world. Unfortunately, many of the challenges associated with the Internet stem from the lack of widely deployed, easily understood, and secure identity solutions. This should come as no surprise. After all, the Internet was designed for sharing information, not for securely identifying users and protecting personal data. However, the rapid proliferation of online theft and deception and the widespread misuse of personal information are threatening to erode public trust in the Internet and thus limit its growth and potentia.

Microsoft believes that no single identity management system will emerge and that efforts should instead be directed toward developing an overarching framework that connects different identity systems and sets out standards and protocols for ensuring the privacy and security of online interactions. Microsoft calls this concept the Identity Metasystem. The Identity Metasystem is not a specific product or solution, but rather an interoperable architecture that allows Internet users to use context-specific identities in their various online interactions.

This paper describes the Identity Metasystem and shows how it can meaningfully advance Internet user privacy. In particular, it will show how Microsoft’s contribution to the engineering of the Identity Metasystem—the Information Card technology—promotes privacy in three primary ways.