Online Identity. A tale of two Moms...

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So I was at a dinner the other night and there happened to be 2 very new moms at the table. I was being lulled to sleep by the chatter about car seats, baby formulas, baby yoga etc. I was sort of snapped back into the moment when the topic of online identities came up. Mom “A” was adamant that her child would be stealth. zero online profile. Her child would be safe from all of the bad things that the internet can do. Mom “B” had already got a Twitter Handle for her child, set up a Facebook Page, obtained a Pinterest Account and on and on.

This isn’t a parenting blog, however nobody can question that both Moms are doing what they think is best.

So rather than getting into the good vs bad of online presence, lets focus on the evolution of an online presence as it relates to Open Source Intelligence. Some facts:

  1. From conception to death, a person will leave breadcrumbs of their personal information in databases.
  2. Much of the information is taken without informed consent or even knowledge (just ask 5 friends about the EULA’s for 5 of their favorite applications)
  3. Some of the information can be somewhat controlled (Facebook, Twitter …)
  4. Some cannot (medical information, driving record)

Ten years ago, police databases would be seen as the primary avenue for understanding a person’s background …. No information meant that person was assumed to be good. Ten years from now, open source information will be the primary avenue for developing an understanding of the person. The no information = good person formula will be stale. A blank profile will cause concern.

Many companies, 3Si included, have become experts in locating information that is freely available online and developing a good understanding of the person based on this information. There is an expanding market for open source intelligence (OSINT) before people enter into business agreements or hire employees.
As for our Moms? Rather than the “digital” signals of total online presence versus zero online presence. The truth will be a much more “analog” continuum of how much online profile exists. The other truth is that it is important to be fully aware of the evolution of information technology so you can exercise as much control over how you look to the world.

(image courtesy Flickr user Photosteve101)

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