Concerning people and computer users, identity is a set of the distinct characteristics which make up an individual's gender, age, etc. Some common forms of identity include a birth certificate, passport, driver's license and fingerprint.
Communication often exchanges identity related information which may be personal. Ideally identities would be managed privately in a trusted computer environment which is secure. Therefore any framework for identity management must include a viable trust model.
Our identities can be easily exploited because authenticity, rather than accuracy, is the standard from which documents are accepted for validation. Possession of identification products does not provide information that is always true eg. fake passport, underage fake id.
Individuals want to be able to tell people who they are and how to communicate with them. The Internet allows the user to define their identity in many ways including anonymously and pseudonymously, with varying levels of privacy. Identities are shaped by the roles we play in our communities. In this way identities are self-constitutional.
Identity has two aspects - a sense of belonging and a sense of being separate. Most people think it is a good thing to belong or identify with a group but people can be attracted or detracted by an identification. Religion is probably the most common manifestation of this trait.
Identities which have a negative perception, can develop into stigma and incite behaviour which discriminates.