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Identity and identifiers are tightly linked when both are confirmed on paper. In a world of paper, verified pseudonyms and conditional anonymity are impossibilities. Assumptions based on the paper identity system lead to flawed decisions in modern uses of failure-prone identifiers. In this work the author begin by arguing that the use of the word "identity" masks important social and technical complexities in developing digital identifiers. The author describes how identity functions in a paper realm. The author uses the case of a traffic stop to illustrate how assertions of identity can increase rather than mitigate risks when the distinctions between identification, attribute verification and identity are confused. The author concludes that that an identity system is not useful for threat management in a high risk situation, when there is no opportunity for enrollment and verification.