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An identity is a set of information which can be used to identify an entity. If an identity matches an entity, there is only one such entity, i.e. there are not two different entities that have the same identity. This implies that identities are unique. The uniqueness of identities can be used as keys in cryptographic schemes. Applying this property to the public-key cryptography, Adi Shamir proposed a scheme called Identity Based Encryption (IBE). In this scheme, the public key of the receiver can be created  Based on his identity, and then the sender can use the key to encrypt and send messages to the receiver. The sender needs to know the identity, e.g. names or email addresses, in order to send to the receiver. Thus, the identity, in this case, is public. However, applying that property to secret-key cryptography is another problem. In secret-key cryptography, the keys are secret, so the identities are also secret.

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