How important is that identity?

When I established the JEBredCal website two years ago, I made of point of stating the following:

Every one of us has multiple identities, which we present in different situations.

From https://jebredcal.wordpress.com/about/

Some of these identities are purely physical (such as my former Radio Shack Battery Club membership), while others include a digital component. Here are just a few of the digital identities that I have established over the years:

  • An identity with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • An identity with the U.S. Department of State.
  • An identity with the U.S. Social Security Administration.
  • Two (or is it three?) identities with Meta for various Meta properties.
  • Countless identities with Google, including JEBredCal and Bredemarket.

Well, yesterday morning I created one additional identity. While it may have a digital component in some server somewhere, this is a primarily digital identity.

Omnitrans Day Pass, July 23, 2022.

I like to spend my Saturday mornings walking, and sometimes I need to take a bus to get to where I want to walk (or to get back home after a long walk). For yesterday’s trip to Eastvale, I walked to downtown Ontario and boarded the 87 bus. Since I anticipated that I might take three bus trips that day, and since Omnitrans does not offer transfers, I decided that it made sense to buy a day pass. (I ended up breaking even, since I did board three buses in the course of the day.)

But what if I used the pass in the morning, gave it to a friend to use in the afternoon, who gave it to another friend to use in the evening? In this case, it may not matter; despite several searches, I could not find any evidence that Omnitrans considers its day passes non-transferable.

7-day and 31-day passes are another matter.

Pop-up on https://omnitrans.org/buy-a-pass/fares/

Please sign your 31-day and 7-day bus pass. Proof of ownership verified with additional identification may be requested at any time by Omnitrans bus drivers. Passes are non-transferable. Misuse of passes may result in denial of service.

Pop-up on https://omnitrans.org/buy-a-pass/fares/

Now as the biometric content marketing expert, I am well aware that these requirements are not strong identity proofing. Signatures and driver’s licenses can be forged, and even legitimate signatures and driver’s licenses can be held by a person who looks a lot like the real purchaser of the pass.

But does this matter?

And does it matter that the single-day pass has no identity proofing requirements at all?

Probably not to Omnitrans. The organization has an interest in reducing fraud, but at the same time it doesn’t want to alienate its ridership. If a few people fraudulently use bus passes, the world won’t end for Omnitrans. In a separate post, I’ve discussed one possible way in which Omnitrans can prove identities with a minimum of friction.

Of course, it’s a different matter if the day pass doesn’t grant you access to an Omnitrans bus, but instead grants you access to the White House Situation Room.

Identity proofing is more critical in some situations than it is in others.

One thought on “How important is that identity?

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