Self-Sovereign Identity Principle #5: Persistence

The fifth guiding principle of Christopher Allen’s Self-Sovereign Identity Principles is persistence. This principle argues that identities should be long-lasting, up to the discretion of the user. In the midst of constant changes in data storage and rotation of private keys (if a user has multiple wallets or identifiers within the purview of a blockchain), persistence enables users to retain their identity, despite having multiple private keys. For any SSI platforms, changes in data storage and rotation of private keys should withstand system upgrades and ideally be interoperable with other systems and algorithms.

Persistence overlaps with several other of Allen’s guiding principles, namely portability and interoperability. Concerning portability, Allen argues that information and services must be easily transferable and transportable without necessitating a third-party or intermediary. In the context of persistence, portability enables users to easily transfer and transport their relevant data across systems, thus ensuring long-term usability of platforms and greater overall sovereignty. Interoperability, according to Allen, is a product of persistence. In order to create far-reaching value, identities must not be limited to a small number of niches and should be able to interact with other systems and algorithms. Persistence (which maintains that identities should be long-lasting), acts as a fundamental idea behind interoperability, as interoperability is a means of implementing persistence.

Persistence in the Digital Age

Systems that provide autonomy for users to control their identity mustn’t be able to take away the identity of a user. Without granting authority to any corporation, government, or other third-party entity, the individual’s complete ownership of his or her own identity exemplifies persistence of that identity. Persistence is not only exclusive to individuals; other institutions, organizations, and collective entities should be subjected to having the existence of their identities at the discretion of other entities. Ultimately, identifiers in a self-sovereign identity system should be owned solely by the person or persons who created them.

Closing Thoughts

Under the principle of persistence, individuals and collective entities should completely own their identities to ensure that they last for however long they so choose. Portability and systems of easily transferable data allow for greater persistence (which results from a more enjoyable user experience). Persistence enables users to retain their identity and acts as a fundamental principle behind creating interoperability mechanisms.

This article is fifth 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! Keepin App is now available on the App Store and Google Play.