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Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society
By Ian Kerr, Valerie Steeves, and Carole Lucock, 2009, Oxford University Press.

On the identity trail

By David Morgan, CIPP, CIPP/C; Debra Farber, CIPP, CIPP/G; and Julie Sinor, CIPP

Ian Kerr, Valerie Steeves, and Carole Lucock of the University of Ottawa have recently released Lessons from the Identity Trail, one of four volumes produced by On the Identity Trail, a major interdisciplinary research initiative lead by Professor Kerr. Of interest to both academics and privacy professionals, the book is organized into 28 chapters, each consisting of a paper representing a distinct view on the topics of anonymity, privacy, and identity in our rapidly-evolving, highly-networked society.

With such a diverse set of disciplines represented, Lessons from the Identity Trail is guaranteed to expose you to a new perspective or way of thinking. From the opening chapter on surveillance and consent—in which we learn about temporal effects on perceived privacy benefits and losses—the sections on privacy and anonymity introduce a host of interesting theories: that privacy can be improved in digital social environments using heuristic evaluation of protections, that privacy empowers battered women instead of oppressing them, that future participation in society might depend on holding an ID card, and that pop music stands to raise public awareness of surveillance more effectively than the written word can. In the final section, anonymity is considered in a legal context in North America and Europe.

For more about the On the Identity Trail project, or to download the free version of Lessons from the Identity Trail, visit

David Morgan, Debra Farber, and Julie Sinor are members of the IAPP Publications Advisory Board.


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