Self-Sovereign Identity Principle #3: Access
The third guiding principle of Christopher Allen’s Ten Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) Principles is access. Users must be able to access their own data and any associated claims without the interference of gatekeepers or intermediaries.
This does not necessarily mean that the user possesses the authority to modify all aspects and claims associated with his or her identity; it does, however, mean a user should be able to access records indicating any modifications associated with his or her identity. In order to protect the sovereignty of other users, an individual should only be granted access to his or her own identity, and not those of others.
In an age where the world is becoming increasingly digitized (even in the developing parts of the globe), access to identity is crucial to ensure the protection of individuals’ civil and human rights in all jurisdictions, according to Allen. Access to one’s identity acts as a safeguard against potential social and economic persecution from a limited number of entities with a high-concentration of power and influence. Governments and corporations have access to an unprecedented amount of personal information pertaining to the daily lives of their citizens (and this is happening all around the world), ranging from geolocations to buyer preferences to general web searches.
How does access fit into the bigger picture?
Currently, access is mostly issued through claims and credentials provided by physical institutions. Identity credentials are provided in the form of plastic cards and paper documents to indicate the various claims of a single entity. In the near future, as claims and credentials become digital, these claims and credentials may be verified by third-party institutions, individual authority figures, and peers, though not exclusively by any of those entities. As self-sovereign identity develops into a more widely-used platform, the means of verifying a user’s identity will diversify.
Access as a guiding principle of self-sovereign identity safeguards individuals from potentially oppressive entities (who possess a substantial amount of information and the ability to distribute personal information which could jeopardize the identities of users). To prevent the potential misuse of their information, users must be able to access their identity without intervention or interference of third-parties. Lastly, access enables users to self- monitor any potential mishandling of claims, credentials, or associations pertaining to one’s identity.
This article is third in a Self-Sovereign Identity Principles series the Metadium team is putting together for you. If you want to learn more please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn!