The Circle: One Online Identity


Last summer I read a book called “The Circle” written by the author Dave Eggers. This book was just a roman, so there isn’t anything academic about this book, however I found the ideas of this book very interesting, innovative, radical and terrifying.

I am not going to tell the whole clue of this book, but the main idea: in this book there was one company, called The Circle, that actually gained a Monopoly over the whole internet. It started with having one account for literally everything you do on the internet (online banking, web surfing, social media, online shopping, work, study, governmental institutions) which later on took an extreme form by trying to make the whole world transparent by tracking everything people do online and offline. The book’s ending slogan is: “Privacy is theft”.

The ideas and developments in the book are absolutely not realistic and it is all very extreme, but it made me think about a few things. I would never like to live in a world like this, but I think the idea of having one account for everything is very interesting. Wouldn’t this be very efficient if everything was integrated? Google is already doing this, Facebook is integrating with a lot of other websites / applications and PayPal tries this too. People will never ever have struggles with their passwords anymore, since you have only one password (this raises a security issue of course). People will be more aware of which information of them is actually available, since nowadays people have so many different accounts, not knowing that those different platforms also exchange information about you. If you would have a very secured system (which is hardly possible to be honest), it would exclude hackers, since you can only operate under one identity.

So leaving all unrealistic things about how extreme it is and the security issues for what it is, what do you think of the idea of having one identity for everything do you online?

Sanne Amber Maas – 342466

Sources:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/nov/21/eggers-circle-when-privacy-is-theft/

https://merchant.paypal.com/cms_content/CA/en_US/files/merchant/WebsitePaymentsPro_Datasheet.pdf

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2 responses to “The Circle: One Online Identity”

  1. 357782jt says :

    I saw “The Circle” in the bookstore before, I thought it was interesting but unfortunately I did not read it (yet). I must admit that the idea to have one online identity to access all possible websites sounds very appealing. For me personally, it is convenient as I have trouble keeping track of all the codes and passwords these days. However, I think it would be better if all organizations implemented a similar security system such as finger print technology. That way, companies do not have to integrate so much (as you mentioned Google/Facebook/Paypal), which leaves consumers with the option to use many different competing firms at the same time. For example, I would still like to combine Google’s email service with Facebook’s social media platform in the future. Such security technologies are already in the making (Apple uses fingerprint) but they of course also face security breaches. An example of extra security measures is the two-step authentication. This sends codes to your mobile phone besides asking for passwords. Of course this is no definite solution as it still involves different passwords for different websites. A solution from Mirani‘s (2014) article is Google’s physical USB login device. Employees can use that to authenticate themselves, but only within the company (for now). I believe that Mirani’s article title “The future of passwords really is no passwords” is true. One way or another, the online world will get rid of having separate passwords for each provided service.

    Sources:

    Mirani, L., 2014. The future of passwords really is no passwords. Retrieved from: http://qz.com/234901/the-future-of-passwords-really-is-no-passwords/

  2. 417662wn says :

    Thank you for this article. The book that you have mentioned is really interesting! I would try to read in next time 🙂

    Having the one account for accessing everything is quite convenience. I think Google do this same idea as well. Since Google provide several services i.e. search engines, location tracking, e-mail, translation service, social network (Google+ that is not quite popular actually), and others in the upcoming future. It’s really comfortable that you can access everything by one Google account and it links to other services as well. Moreover, the result from one service may link to other service i.e. you find some location in Google Map then it would show the related information in Google Search Engine. The linked information is really amazing to gain insight into something that you keen on!

    However, we have to consider on the security issue either as you mentioned in your article. If one can hack your account, it means that all your information would be accessed! In my opinion, just accounts in social network or e-mail can be linked (similar to the case of Google or Facebook with instagram).

    In case of the security issue like internet banking, it should make a separated account and make more security process i.e. asking pin code from mobile before accessing information.

    All in all, making one universal account is a decent idea in theory. Nevertheless, there are various issues you need to consider before generating this idea. The most important issue is a security issue!

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