In their paper, Laurie Jones et al (2007) concluded that people often used authentication technologies but were unaware of this, thus perceived these technologies negatively as a result of the unfamiliarity.

I decided to put this conclusion to the test by taking a closer look at my daily activities: which authentication technologies do I use? Am I aware that I am using them, and does this knowledge change how I perceive them? In this narrative I focus on work at Loughborough University.

On Wednesday 18th April 2012, I woke up and went through my usual routines before driving to work. When I arrived at the gate, the automatic number plate recognition barrier lifted and I drove through it. Usually I would not have noticed. This time however, I wondered if they asked for my consent before deciding take pictures of my number plate. I also wondered if the CCTV took pictures of the driver too.

I arrived earlier than usual so I had to swipe my staff ID card to get into the building.

In my office, I logged into my computer using my username and password.

After opening Outlook, I noticed two emails from central IT department asking feedback on how they handled my query the day before. I thought, hmm, I don’t remember giving you my email address when I called? Then I remembered that they asked for my Staff ID.

Later that day, I had to use another of the university’s support services which I had arranged previously. When I got there, they knew basic information about me which did not bother me because I probably gave it to them; but when later in the conversation, the lady said: “you are a social science researcher, and in my experience researchers tend to want to solve problems using research logics”, I thought, OK, I definitely did not tell you about my work category.

Later that evening, when the automatic barriers let me out, I pondered Jones et al’s conclusion. When I was not aware of which authentication technologies I used at work, I would definitely have said no to some of them and how they linked my professional/personal information. But now that I am aware I have been using them all along, what do I think?

Ref: Jones L.A., Anton, A.I, Earp J.B. (2007) Towards Understanding User Perceptions of Authentication Technologies.  Available at http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1314352

Jasmine Harvey