Managing your digital identity: Digital footprints and identities research—Short report 1, looks at how we manage our personal data online. It is drawn from the findings of the Digital footprints and identities research, which aimed to understand how Australians act and react to the challenges of digital identity when they are online.
Managing your digital identity reveals most Australians have multiple digital identities, managing between five and 50 login and password combinations to conduct their day-to-day online activities.
Half the participants in the research said they sometimes find it difficult to manage their online identities and passwords.
While they are generally comfortable with providing details like their date of birth and phone numbers to government agencies, they resist providing personal data to other organisations and services.
Some Australians respond to unwelcome demands for information by going elsewhere. But a significant number (47 per cent)—and an even greater proportion of younger Australians—would provide inaccurate or misleading information about themselves to use a site, application or service.
Australians also have three distinct online ‘identities’:
- a ‘transactional identity’—the minimum information required to make a specific task work with an organisation or service such as a financial institution, insurance company, online retailer or government agency
- a ‘social identity’—developed on social networking services and including personal data shared across online communities
- a ‘professional identity’—locatable online with a positive image of their skills, experience or business offering.
Most did not recognise the strategies they have adopted to manage their logins and passwords are risky, or they are simply not worried about it.
But there are a number of strategies that can help Australians take control of their online identity management and enhance their security and privacy. These are:
1. Conduct a personal identity audit to understand:
- who the information is shared with
- what the information will be used for
- whether the personal data is discarded once it is not required
- if the personal information has commercial value, is the trade-off worth it?
2. Use privacy enhancing tools.
3. Be informed about how to protect your digital privacy.