Introduction to Self-Sovereign Identity and Its 10 Guiding Principles

Jan 10, 2019 · 3 min read

Hello fellow Metadians,

To start this year right, we are kicking off a series of educational blog posts as well as events that will raise awareness about the concept of self-sovereign identity. Since Metadium is an identity ecosystem built on the blockchain, learning about this concept along with its guiding principles will help you gain a deeper understanding of Metadium and our mission of creating a free world through self-sovereign identity.

What is self-sovereign identity (SSI)?

Now, this is where things get a little bit tricky. There is no consensus on an exact definition of self-sovereign identity yet. We use the terminology of SSI, as the concept of individuals or organizations having sole ownership of their digital and analog identities, and control over how their personal data is shared and used. This adds a layer of security and flexibility allowing the identity holder to only reveal the necessary data for any given transaction or interaction. Since identity is such a central part of society, we need to ensure that user control will be the primary foundation SSI will be built upon.

Under self-sovereign identity model, individuals and organizations (holders) who have one or more identifiers (something that enables a subject to be discovered and identified) can present claims relating to those identifiers without having to go through an intermediary. As a result, the best way to implement a system with self-sovereign identity would be through blockchain technology where no intermediary is needed.

In order for a system like this to be successful, it needs to adhere to a set of guiding principles. Below, we will give an overview of the guiding principles, using Christopher Allen’s Ten Principles of SSI as a starting point.

Guiding Principles of SSI

We’ll cover each of the principles in-depth over the period of several weeks. This blog post will be updated with links on a weekly bases. Each of the guiding principles is (will be) linked to the corresponding article.

  1. Existence — Users must have an independent existence.
  2. Control — Users must control their identities.
  3. Access — Users must have access to their own data
  4. Transparency — Systems and algorithms must be transparent.
  5. Persistence — Identities must be long-lived.
  6. Portability — Information and services about identity must be transportable
  7. Interoperability — Identities should be as widely usable as possible.
  8. Consent — Users must agree to the use of their identity.
  9. Minimization — Disclosure of claims must be minimized
  10. Protection — The rights of users must be protected

We hope this article gave you a brief look into the concept behind self-sovereign identity as well as an overview of the 10 guiding principles that encompass it. Feel free to reach out to us on our Telegram channel or create a thread on our subreddit if you have any further questions regarding SSI or Metadium itself!


Team Metadium

Useful links

Position paper on blockchain enabled identity from Identity Working Group of the German Blockchain Association.

Video: Forging self-sovereign identities in the age of the blockchain

Video: Christopher Allen on Decentralised Identity

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