What is Zero-Knowledge Proof and How Does it Protect My Identity?

humanityprot
3 min readApr 9, 2024

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Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) are digital shields that protect your online identity in the realm of Web3. They keep your personal information safe from theft and misuse when you’re online.

So, what exactly are ZKP, and how do they keep you safe on Humanity Protocol?

What is Zero-Knowledge Proof?

ZKP lets one party, the prover, prove information to another party, called the verifier, without giving away any sensitive details. This means you can prove your identity and ownership of property without sharing any private information.

While its applications as we know them today may sound futuristic, the concept isn’t new. ZKP first emerged in the 80s, introduced by researchers Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Micali, and Charles Rackoff in their 1985 cryptography paper, “The Knowledge Complexity of Interactive Proof Systems.

Their work laid the foundation for the application of ZKP in various fields, including blockchain technology. Since then, ZKPs have become an essential tool for ensuring privacy and security in digital transactions and communications.

Humanity Protocol uses ZKP to allow individuals to affirm their unique identities without divulging confidential details, upholding trust and security in digital interactions. This empowers users to maintain control over their personal information.

How Does Zero-Knowledge Proof Protect My Identity on Humanity Protocol?

ZKP plays a crucial role in safeguarding your identity on the Humanity Protocol while proving that you are, indeed, a unique human. In the world of Web3, Humanity Protocol allows projects to grant opportunities to their users to vote or access airdrops more equitably.

For instance, if you need to confirm that you are a member of a DAO to vote on a decision, Humanity Protocol’s network will enable you to generate proof that confirms your membership status to cast your vote without disclosing any identifiable details. This proof undergoes verification within the DAO’s framework, ensuring a truly democratic one-person-one-vote system.

Another prime use case for ZKP on Humanity Protocol is to ensure “fairdrops” from Web3 projects are truly fair. Suppose a project wants to distribute tokens to genuine community members without allowing one person to claim multiple airdrops fraudulently. Using ZKP, Humanity Protocol will allow participants to generate proof of their unique identities or contributions to the community without disclosing the user’s identity.

Zero-Knowledge Proofs in the Physical World

ZKP also holds promise for authenticating real-world assets without compromising privacy. In scenarios involving physical assets like real estate or artwork, ZKP enables parties to verify ownership or attributes without revealing sensitive details.

In a real estate transaction, ZKP can confirm property ownership without disclosing personal information. Similarly, in verifying the authenticity of artwork, ZKP can attest to its genuineness without exposing the owner’s identity or where the artwork is stored.

ZKP in the physical world goes well beyond its use to prove asset ownership. A study conducted at the University of New South Wales also explored how ZKP can enable educational institutions to verify the status of students with disabilities without compromising their personal information, thereby preserving their privacy.

By providing a secure, privacy-preserving method for validating asset ownership and authenticity, ZKP paves the way for efficient, trust-enhanced transactions in the physical world.

Why are Zero-Knowledge Proofs Important?

In Proof of Humanity (PoH) applications such as Humanity Protocol, ZKP is instrumental in ensuring privacy, security, and efficiency. ZKP’s privacy-preserving feature is essential for complying with regulations like GDPR while still providing reliable identity verification.

ZKP can also support efficient and scalable verification processes, ensuring quick and accessible identity verification in PoH systems. By enabling trustless systems, ZKP allows verification without relying on large organizations to store and manage your personal information.

ZKP plays a pivotal role in PoH applications on Web3 by balancing privacy, security, compliance, efficiency, and trustlessness, thereby fostering a robust and reliable decentralized ecosystem for identity verification.

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