Blockchain enables digital identity

People are starting to understand the risks and costs of agreeing to e-commerce terms of service. Today, centralized-business models own the platforms and our identities.

Data is the currency of e-commerce. Similar to how gold enters the marketplace, identity data is mined, cleaned, aggregated, correlated and analyzed. The customer has become the product.

Control of identity credentials is fundamental to e-commerce and privacy. Society can now regain the dominion of its digital identity. Blockchain technology makes that possible.

The benefits of mining your identity data are split between the centralized-business and its originator (no longer the owner.) The revenue generated, and intelligence gathered become the revenue stream of business. The data originator gets usage of the service.

Identity management utilizing blockchain technology extends beyond white papers; patents[i], products, partnerships[ii] and public identity infrastructure[iii] exist, backed by industry-leading companies. In the case of The Sovrin Foundation at the time of this writing, over 20 Stewards,[iv] including IBM, from at least ten countries have made commitments to create a global public decentralized utility for identity credentials. Making verifiable claims about our identities are the infrastructure’s lifeblood.

“Identity management has the potential to be a significant global market; battle lines are drawn, one of which is between federated solutions and a global public utility.” Dan Ramirez, Vanig CEO

How many of us have made an e-commerce purchase and been disappointed with the delivered product? Addressed the consequences of identity theft? Then there is the matter of the permanent loss of our identity’s data and all it implies merely by using a service under the terms of an agreement. These are a sample of the identity management issues faced by Vanig, creators of an integrated e-commerce and supply chain blockchain ecosystem, where I serve as an Advisor.

Kim Cameron, Chief Architect of Identity for Microsoft, has said, “The Internet was created without an identity layer.” Multiple entities are providing blockchain technology solutions for identity to address this oversight. The marketplace for a platform for blockchain technology identity is comparable in size to the observable universe and challenging to comprehend. The benefits of individual identity control, where an ‘individual’ is a person, organization, physical thing, or digital agent, that we can grasp.

Control of identity needs to shift from company-centric to the individual, through a secure and portable structure. The entity becomes the identity provider, without an external party providing a claim to it.[v] For e-commerce and supply chain execution, an ecosystem is possible and a very different stakeholder model for value capture.

Many of the components for Vanig’s e-commerce platform are hinged on identity management. Vanig’s selection of a digital identity credentials infrastructure affects more than identity and access management. It profoundly impacts cybersecurity[vi], regulatory compliance, and data integration. For blockchain entrants and existing industry leaders alike, the selection of a blockchain identity management platform is an important consideration with a long tail.

A new crypto economy for identity management will arise, nurturing the blockchain ecosystem. The crypto economy is a precept for Vanig’s e-commerce platform.

Blockchain technology enables the balance to tilt in favor of the principles of a self-sovereign identity[vii], a bridge to ecosystem development. I will continue with identity management in an upcoming article, focusing on e-commerce and supply chain scenarios made possible once again, by an individual regaining controlling of one’s identity credentials.


Multiple blockchain identity management features stood out in my readings and are grouped below. I have not done justice to the depth and breadth required for identity management in this article. The parties who are leading the return of identity to individual control deserve our gratitude and thanks.

Holistic

  • The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is standardizing open digital credentials[viii]
  • No company will own the portable identity credential, and everybody can use it
  • On a global scale, the identity solution design is decentralized, interoperable, and peer-to-peer[ix]
  • The removal of all digital trust middleman infrastructure

Claims and reputation

  • An identity network that promotes verifiable claims
  • Identities can accrue reputations based on self-attested data, verifiable attributes, and trusted organization claims
  • Identity owners can publicly or privately share reputations

Crypto economy

  • A digital marketplace for trust enables a crypto economy to form around identity management
  • Stakeholders are incentivized based on activity and direction of value

Selective disclosure

  • Allowing the identity owner to control the sharing of data in any context
  • A trusted proof of a claim without revealing any data that makes it true

Regulatory and security

  • Meet the most stringent local, regional and global privacy standards
  • Never put any private data on the distributed ledger
  • Know your customer and anti-money laundering compliance
  • Acting as if identity management continually executes in a hostile environment

Pairwise-pseudonymous network addresses

  • A network of decentralized globally unique identifiers, under the identity owners control, serving as public credentials that are not worth stealing[x]
  • Eliminating the potential for correlation between identity transactions
  • An ability to scale to trillions of pairwise-pseudonymous identifiers

[i] ShoCard, Inc., ShoCard Whitepaper, Identity Management Verified Using the Blockchain, 2017, https://shocoin.io/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/ShoCoin-ICO-Whitepaper-Feb9.pdf

[ii] ShoCard, Inc., Travel Identity of the Future, 2018, https://shocard.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/travel-identity-of-the-future.pdf

[iii] SiliconANGLE, Via Sovrin, IBM supports user-centric global identity on blockchain, April 2018, https://siliconangle.com/blog/2018/04/11/ibms-support-user-centric-global-identity-blockchain/

[iv] Sovrin Foundation, Stewards, https://sovrin.org/stewards/

[v] Sovrin Foundation, The Inevitable Rise of Self-Sovreign Identity, March 2017, https://sovrin.org/library/inevitable-rise-of-self-sovereign-identity/

[vi] COIN CATALYST, Using Blockchain for Identity Management — Five Compelling Examples, http://www.coincatalyst.com/using-blockchain-for-identity-management-five-compelling-examples/

[vii] Life With Alactity, The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity, Christopher Allen, April 2016, http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2016/04/the-path-to-self-soverereign-identity.html

[viii] W3C, W3C Credentials Community Group Charter, October 2–17, https://www.w3.org/community/credentials/charter/

[ix] Phil Windley’s TECHNOMETRIA, The CompuServe of Things, April 2014

[x] Sovrin Foundation, A Protocol and Token for Self-Sovereign Identity and Decentralized Trust, January 2018, https://sovrin.org/library/sovrin-protocol-and-token-white-paper/

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