After writing high level overview of Web 3.0 and Blockchain in my article https://trybe.one/web-3-0-and-the-birth-of-the-blockchain-revolution/ I thought about the intricate journey of Trust and Digital Identity. What are the potential real use case out there that can fully harness the power of Blockchain.
In today’s technological era it is very clear Trust is fundamentally broken with online community. Hackers break in various online facilities to steal valuable data. Millions and if not Billions of fraudulent transactions are made. The online communities identity along with information are often misused or sometimes abused for profit. Fake news is abundant and clearly visible, take the 2016 elections with the Russia Meddling as a prime example.
So how did we get end up here? The larger corporation will offer free online services to capture our data, as they grow they tend to acquire attractive start-ups swallowing even more data. One prime example of this would be Facebook buying the likes of Whatsapp, Instagram and Snapchat. As users of these platforms we often neglect to read the finer details of the T&C’s in order to use the service since you need to be in compliance.
The current Trust online is often dictated by large corporations which holds the user information in large centralized databases. The problems with storing crucial information in a central repository increase the likelihood of a single source of failure and a BIG bullseye for DDOS, Hackers and potentially outages where this will take out any kind of access into a system. Given that the modern and more advance system are more distributed on the cloud with proper failover redundancies in place should such an incident occur. This seem to have happen with higher rate of frequency and just yesterday cutomers of DoorDash claimed they were hacked.
There are other problems with a centralise system like this:
- Hackers can gain financial rewards by attacking centralised systems usually the rewards far outweighs the penalties
- There are considerable financial rewards for large ‘trusted’ corporations to mine and/or sell user data for profit (i.e. Facebook/Google/Microsoft/Amazon)
- Customer or users do not fully own or control their online data and often find it difficult to remember complex usernames and passwords.
Digital Blockchain Citizens and the City of ZUG – Self Sovereign Identity
One of favourite Digital Identity Blockchain project which has real life use cases is a project called uPort https://www.uport.me/ it is providing open identify for a decentralised web. uPort project enables users to register their own identity on the Ethereum network, send and request credentials, sign transactions and securely manage keys and data. What stood out for me was their initial pilot project back in 2017 for the City of Zug in Switzerland allowing the registration of their residents Identifications to be used on the Blockchain which enable access to Government digital services such as online voting and proof of residence. Here is a Video of this pilot scheme:
uPort mission statement.
“We believe that everyone has the right to control their own digital identity – how it’s shaped, shared and sustained.”
uPort has also partnered up with another potential great project out there called Melon founded by Mona El Isa who also happens to be based in the City of Zug. Melon Protocol is an autonomous system, designed for Crypto Asset Management on a decentralised Ethereum blockchain with IPFS integration. Since the citizen of Zug is onboarded as Digital Blockchain Citizen with uPort which Melon fully integrated meaning has there is no need for Melon to perform any KYC/AML for its investors.
So what does that look like, here is a sample use case from of of Mona El Isa blogs:
“Alice downloads the u-Port app and create an account. In this moment, the mobile app creates a private key and deploys smart contracts on the Ethereum network that represent a user’s identity. Alice is in complete control of her identity and it’s associated data.
With her uPort ID Alice now visits the website of the City of Zug at www.stadtzug.ch. Here, she scans a QR code to interact with the identity of the City of Zug for the first time. Thus, the City has its own identity on the Ethereum network that allows it so sign and verify data with its own private key. Access to this identity is managed by the City clerk, who again interacts with the lead identity with his own uPort identity with specific admin rights.
Once Alice entered her date of birth and passport number on the website of the City her request is cryptographically signed with her private key and sent to the city. She now has 14 days to visit the City’s Einwohnermeldeamt (citizen registration office) for an in-person verification of her passport to confirm that the details provided today. Once confirmed, the City issues Alice a verified attestation that is signed by the City’s identity.
The attestation is a data piece that contains her submitted information and is stored on her phone in an off-chain environment. The fact that the attestation lives on her mobile device, or other secure cloud storage solution means that her private information is not publicly accessible in any way. Alice chooses which service provider or dapp she wants to share this information with to identify herself.
Alice is now able to interact with the online services of the City of Zug in a seamless way. In a first use case the City will pilot an e-voting application, as well as several other services.“
Other Self sovereign and Hybrid Blockchain project out there providing this type of identity are: