An explosive field of potential lies in the intersection of Self Sovereign Identity with the Blockchain. In his Reboot the Web of Trust presentation Christopher Allen defines this headline theme of Forging self-sovereign identities in the age of the blockchain.
Christopher begins with an overview of his prestigious and critical role in the development of the security layer of the Internet, from the early days of PGP and SSL standards co-authoring and how this has evolved into his current work with the Blockchain and decentralized Identity.
He moves on to the higher principles he believes a universal Identity system will make possible, such as being able to hold the powerful to account and ensuring a fair, equal participation for every one in defining our future. He highlights how it is a double edged sword with a potential risk for Identity to be weaponized and used in direct contrast to these principles.
In particular, at 6m50s he describes how the Indian identity scheme ‘Aadhaar’, a centralized government program, violates over a decade of first-world Identity best practices, with few laws against profiling, discrimination and abuse by law enforcement.
To avoid these pitfalls Allen says a key objective was to utilize the same tools used to protect buyers, sellers, traders and auctioneers to protect the helpless, documenting these principles into his defining white paper The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity, which was presented to the United Nations.
Blockchain and Digital Identity
Many others are also exploring the synergistic relationship between the Blockchain and Digital Identity.
Blockstack offers this proposed definition of Blockchain Identity: A blockchain identity (or blockchain ID) is a generic term used to refer to any identity on the blockchain. Users can have one blockchain identity or many and can register them just like one would register domain names or accounts on Facebook or Twitter.
In his blog Paul Payam Almasi describes the key relationship to and the role the Blockchain will play, noting a key industry insight:
“As cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and Coinbase begin to onboard more and more users, they will have the incredible luxury of linking someone’s off chain identity with their blockchain identity. This creates a perfect onramp towards a self sovereign identity model.”
In their guide SearchSecurity highlights:
“In all models of identity management, a digital identity requires identifiers, which ensure the user is who they say they are. However, with self-sovereign identity, identifiers do not need an intermediary. This means that a user’s self-sovereign identity can be registered to a claim, such as a block on a blockchain.”