Abstract: In the Information Society an individual may take on an identity for
each electronic service with which he or she engages. As a consequence, an
individual may accumulate a vast array of personal identifiers for such
'services' and is also likely to accrue a range of physical representations of
such multiple identification: credit card, debit card, driving licence,
passport, library card, parking permit etc. Hence, multiple identity management
is a significant issue for individuals and organisations. In this paper we
unpack this issue in terms of a semiotic framework consisting of three
interrelated processes – authentication, identification and enrolment.
These processes serve to locate the three elements of the person, identifiers
and identity that help define the socio-technical network which comprises the
issue of personal identity in the Information Age. We test the explanatory
utility of this framework against a contemporary and prominent case from the UK
– an attempt by the government to introduce a national identity card.
Such an identity token offers numerous potential benefits for individuals and
organisations but raises major challenges to data protection, data privacy and
public trust in the information governance of the UK.