Last week was the Internet Identity Workshop and also in the past week there were two new papers released about Self-Sovereign Identity both of which I had a hand in reviewing. ( A third just got released and it was added below in early November.)
They are both good papers and I recommend them.
The first one to be released by by the Future of Property Rights program at New America Foundation was A Nail finds a Hammer: Self-Sovereign Identity, Design Principles and Property Rights in the Developing World. From the Introduction:
Our interest in identity systems was an inevitable outgrowth of our earlier work on blockchain-based1 land registries.2 Property registries, which at the simplest level are ledgers of who has which rights to which asset, require a very secure and reliable means of identifying both people and properties. In the course of investigating solutions to that problem, we began to appreciate the broader challenges of digital identity and its role in international development. And the more we learned about digital identity, the more convinced we became of the need for self-sovereign identity, or SSI. This model, and the underlying principles of identity which it incorporates, will be described in detail in this paper.
We believe that the great potential of SSI is that it can make identity in the digital world function more like identity in the physical world, in which every person has a unique and persistent identity which is represented to others by means of both their physical attributes and a collection of credentials attested to by various external sources of authority. These credentials are stored and controlled by the identity holder—typically in a wallet—and presented to different people for different reasons at the identity holder’s discretion. Crucially, the identity holder controls what information to present based on the environment, trust level, and type of interaction. Moreover, their fundamental identity persists even though the credentials by which it is represented may change over time.
The Second is by the Identity Working Group of the German Blockchain Association Self-sovereign Identity: A position paper on blockchain enabled identity and the road ahead.
From the Introduction:
Digital Identity is a field that matters to a seemingly infinite number of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. Confronted with this extensive scope, we decided to structure this position paper around two major objectives:
First, to provide our readers with a structured overview of the identity field from the perspective of self-sovereign identity, and second, to motivate stakeholders in the identity community to embrace the idea of a universal identity layer and join us for the road ahead.
As a result of our collaboration in the identity working group in the German Blockchain Association, we propose the SSI model as a way to enable an identity ecosystem that is capable of solving many inefficiencies in existing identity solutions and addressing novel demands on identity in the emerging decentralised web. Whilst SSI systems can be constructed without the need for any blockchain system, blockchain systems can add significant value to SSI systems, as this paper will show. Ultimately, the universal identity layer that we describe is required to enable blockchain based decentralised systems and business models to reach their full potential.
Our aim is to present an overview that is independent from any one company’s product offering. We instead present an industry-wide consensus on the model of SSI that is geared towards the establishment of a truly interoperable and modular identity system that utilizes open standards. The paper can thus be understood as the baseline of agreement between all represented businesses from the identity space. The paper is an attempt to describe the universal identity layer from a high-level perspective with a focus on shared positions and agreement instead of going into technical implementation details that certainly matter but need to be discussed further on in the debate we intend to initiate with this position paper.
The Third report was pulled together by folks at GovLab NYU. BLOCKCHANGE: Blockchain Technologies for Social Change. FIELD REPORT: On the Emergent Use of Distributed Ledger Technologies for Identity Management
THE BLOCKCHAIN IDENTITY PARADIGM CHANGE
During our analysis, some have suggested that the above (enterprise) ID lifecycle is not representative of how blockchain can transform Identity. They have subsequently called for a new paradigm.
According to Kaliya “Identity Woman” Young: “The mental models of how identity is “managed” whether by an employer relative to an employee or by a government relative to a citizen or by an individual just logging into to a web service is disrupted by the new emerging standards of DIDs and Verifiable Credentials.
The authors did a literature of existing Identity Management research from academia that is not really familiar with current industry frames (a read a lot of this literature while I was in the Master of Science in Identity Management and Security and it was stale and out of date). The case studies built on these existing frames rather then engaging from the current literature frames rather then new ones.