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Blockchain for Digital Identity


Oct 28, 2017 Posted /  4967 Views


Blockchain for Digital Identity

Introduction: In today's emerging digital society, digital identity is growing in importance and blockchain provides the technology to put security and trust into digital identity applications.


The value and importance of self-sovereign digital identity have written and spoken publicly by learning Machine. Not only, it involves the future of technology privacy, but also the global citizenship. As the phrase, so-called “self-sovereign identity” highlighted more in last few years. There are largely observed digital and blockchain-based identity solutions - relating themselves as self-sovereign, when are actually not.


Fragment of this has a relation with the conflation of “blockchain” with “self-sovereignty.” No doubt, the blockchain affords emancipatory was never highlighted before in human communities. However, this has generates opportunities for micro-control of human movement and transactions on an unprecedented scale. Seems to be a double-edged sword of any new technology: useful in liberating or controlling. Using blockchain, in and of itself, therefore, potentially not enough to promote human freedom and mobility. Though, self-sovereignty must be openly architected into any blockchain-based social infrastructure.

Highlighting the purpose of post -  To examine the field of options and structure how Blockcerts - a claims-based approach to identify sets the standard for a mobile wallet (available for iOS and Android), meeting an essential umbrella criteria of digital self-sovereignty: recipient ownership and vendor independence.


  • Recipient ownership elaborates - Individuals control the private keys, enabling them to demonstrate ownership of money or their digital records.


  • Vendor independence elaborates - Access, display, and verification without relying on any particular vendor. Based on open-source standards, records can be migrated, shared, and verified independently of any vendor.


In order to find a way that guarantees the durability of important records and is useful for a lifetime, there is a need to combine these two conditions.


Vendors with Blockchain-based Products for Official Records


To capture every vendor related to this space is difficult. However, the complete focus is on commercial products, using a public blockchain for anchoring official records.


Eventually, the solutions provided by a sample of current product offerings fall into one of four categories:

  • Proof of Existence

  • Vendor as Notary

  • Know Your Customer

  • Digital Self-Sovereignty


Instead of explaining the relationship between each, it’s better to understand the four major categories.


Proof of Existence Solutions: Through the blockchain, as a time-stamping notary - guarantee about the modification of a particular document, since a particular point of time. Typically, these vendors take help of standard open-source approaches in order to use blockchain for verification, without depending on any ongoing vendor. Whereas, vendors included in the quadrant aren’t able to encode recipient’s public keys into documents, nor transmitting them to recipients - simply they can provide data verification. This proves that the document recipients don't claim about any unaltered document - issued to them. No vendors get confused with identity claims of individuals.


Vendor as Notary Solutions: It acts as a proof of existence for data and position, allowing products to issue identity documents, like academic credentials. Mainly, they perform in a format, depending upon the vendor’s access of hosting, and verification. For individual recipients, they do not provide any sort of ownership. In effect, they take the blockchain into consideration to support their vendor-centric approach for verification and stewardship of records.


Know Your Customer Solutions: Typically, it provides a mobile app, enabling recipients to demonstrate ownership of their verified data. However, this generates efficiencies within a robust network of participating companies who are looking for more efficient ways to validate customer data. Within the perimeter of a vendor-controlled network, only this data is only useful to recipients. Hence, when recipient ownership is recognized, there is an absolution reliance on the vendor. KYC solutions seem to be promising in many use cases but aren`t be confused with solutions, providing verifiable claims.


Digital Self-Sovereignty Solutions: It allows individuals to receive official records that recipients completely own, without depending on a vendor for viewing, sharing, or verifying these records. By combining the working of these three things, this independence can be achieved:


  • Issuing records in a format, depending on open standards


  • Issuing records, including the public key of recipients


  • Holding records with the help of open-source container (i.e. a mobile app) giving recipients’ authority of their own private keys in order to continually operate and survive after particular vendor.


Without involving any mobile app, it offers the most convenient way to produce private keys, sends public keys to issuers, and hold digital records with the corresponding private key or decentralized identifier.


In 2016, there is a release of learning Machine called as Blockcerts. It is a first open-source mobile wallet that allowed digital self-sovereignty. Intended to be used for a vendor who supports these values. In 2017, there is a further release of Learning Machine in Android version, providing first commercial product for distributing records, leveraging the openness and convenience of the Blockcerts mobile app.


Recently, Consensus developed a mobile app uPort. It is an open-source wallet, seems to be popular with Ethereum developers. Soon, Consensus is going to unite this app with features for organizations to issue credentials to recipients. However, the functioning of uPort is little differently from Blockcerts. Both mobile apps clearly define - what it means to empower individuals with verifiable claims, and which comprise the underlying attributes of identity.


Mostly, customer confusion comes when they try to differentiate between vendors – The one that provides vendor as notary services while the others that enable Digital Self-Sovereignty by providing verifiable claims owned by a recipient. Merely, time stamping records on the blockchain or generating a vendor-owned environment that stores recipients records does not empower individuals - they are able to take records anywhere, store them autonomously from any vendor or issuing institution while proving to be their owner. That is what, the practical meaning of digital self-sovereignty.


Projects like Cove Identity are working hard to revolutionize the digital identity over Blockchain.


Other Initiatives Supporting Self-Sovereignty


Another impressive project is Blockstack, enabling people to own their data, simply start with domain names. Blockstack hasn't included above, as it isn`t a product to actually issue official records, but it proves beneficial in building a foundational layer on which new identity applications get built.


Another worth highlighting is Brave`s browser and their Basic Attention Token. Completely, a different type of product. This blocks all ads, allowing individuals to choose into receiving payments from advertiser’s as an alternative to their browsing data and allowing ads. However, this isn`t a wallet to hold official records, it can be assumed as another extension of self and by virtue of Brave’s implementation, it became a good example of - how different initiatives can be driven by values that line up individual empowerment.


Eventually, if you are interested in joining technical conversations about digital identity, reach out Rebooting Web of Trust. They included events held around the world every year.


If else, you hold an issue of official records, your community members (i.e. citizens, employees, students, etc.) are eligible to approach for a solution that prioritizes their ownership and independence.


To move extra miles, like the benefits for your recipients. Contact us at [email protected]


Applancer is an open platform for discussion on all things like Blockchain , Cryptocurrency and Ico news updates. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Applancer .

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Tags: blockchain Cove Identity security identity cove fingerprint

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