Johnny Carson's first national TV gig was as host (from 1957 to 1962) of a game show called "Who Do You Trust?" It was patterned after the earlier Groucho Marx show called "You Bet Your Life." I was reminded of this show during a lively e-mail discussion with a number of readers of my Identity Management newsletter about various identity federation schemes that required your identity data to be stored with third parties.Johnny Carson's first national TV gig was as host (from 1957 to 1962) of a game show called "Who Do You Trust?" It was patterned after the earlier Groucho Marx show called "You Bet Your Life." I was reminded of this show during a lively e-mail discussion with a number of readers of my\u00a0Identity Management newsletter\u00a0about various identity federation schemes that required your identity data to be stored with third parties.While many people were willing to store some of their personal information with supposedly trusted institutions (banks, credit card companies, the postal service), it seems no one is willing to trust all his data to any one institution. While some were willing to keep all of their data digitized on their own personal computer (not their work machine, but their home machine), most realized that this presented difficulties for anyone who traveled at all. Keeping the same data synchronized on two or more devices usually means that at least one has outdated information. The only way to assure the accuracy of data is to have a single source of authority, one place where the data is written to and read from.Even when I proposed a design similar to a safe deposit box - one which requires two "keys" (PKI\u00a0tokens) to unlock - there were still holdouts. These people pointed out that banks must yield up their secure boxes to valid court orders while digital boxes were subject to many more attacks than the steel vault at your savings institution. The fear of identity theft overrides any rational discussion on the issues.The really sad part, though, is that there doesn't seem to be any institution in which everyone can put their trust these days. Back when Groucho and Johnny were hosting their game shows, people trusted their banker, postman, priest\/minister\/rabbi, doctor, lawyer, news reporter, neighbor and even their politicians (well, many of them). It might be that the people filling these roles always had feet of clay that we simply overlooked. But it's also very likely that changes to society over the past 50 years have lead to a culture that no longer values trust.Technology can't create trust where society sows doubt and disbelief, it can only hope to minimize the risk. Deciding who you do trust shouldn't mean you have to bet your life.Tip of the weekImproving the Lemons Market with a Reputation System: An Experimental Study of Internet Auctioning is a fascinating study of trust building in online auctions. For a bit of lighter reading, try Donald Westlake's Trust Me On This.