Self Sovereign Identity Systems

Friday, April 09, 2021

Doesn’t expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?🤔🤔

I don’t need sleep, I need answers!!!

While I embark on a quest to find answers, have fun reading the second edition of this month’s newsletter.

Before we can get an identifier like a driving license or a passport, we usually have to show some proof of our existence - with our name, birth date etc. This usually takes the form of a birth certificate and getting a birth certificate is not as simple as it sounds. According to a report from UNICEF, 25% of the births go unrecorded worldwide and not getting a birth certificate is an issue that needs to be pondered upon. Not having a birth certificate can have life shattering consequences, children without birth certificates can have trouble getting education, healthcare facilities, may married too young or forced into child labour. Children are the second most common victims of human trafficking after women. World Bank estimates 1.5 billion people on the planet lack some original proof of existence and that complicates things — these people can lack the right to vote, getting jobs, bank facilities etc. Lack of original proof of existence is a challenge that the Syrian refugees had to face.

This major problem led to an initiative pioneered by World Bank called as Identification for Development, which aims to provide identity to all so that more people can participate in the global economy. However there is another major flaw in this centralized system.

India started issuing Aadhar Cards in the year 2009 with a purpose of Identity for All. Aadhar is a unique 12 digit number issued to every citizen. India documented 99% of the cdults and it had a positive impact on the economy. However, the data of all the users is stored in a centralized system with the government as the authority monitoring it. In 2018 UIDAI’s Aadhar software was compromised and the details were out in public. This is the major flaw with centralized systems. We bear all the risk for our data stored with a third party and if the data is compromised our privacy is at stake. Secondly, the system is extremely unfriendly, we have to fill the same kinds of forms every time we want a new identity card. Thirdly, the institution responsible for storing our data may sell it to vendors or other untrusted sources without our permission - this is what Facebook has been accused of.

There is something so wrong about the system or just everything!

If you do not have an identity, you will not be treated with dignity in the society because as per the law you do not exist and are not a citizen of any country, you cannot have facilities like education, healthcare, banking, voting rights etc. and that’s shattering. However, if you managed to have an identity you are informed that privacy is overrated and other corporation might use your data for their economic benefits. Such HYPOCRISY! There has to be a better way to manage this!

We should have the right to manage our identity, free of any country or the place where we live. By giving this right to the government or any central authority, we give them much more power. Separating data rights from the actual data is important. User should have the right to decide who should have the access to his/her data. Consider for example if you go to a casino and the owner asks for your identity to check if you are an adult or not. His only concern is if you are above 21 or not (Just a YES or a NO) and has nothing to deal with your name, age and other details. However by showing him your ID, he gets to everything personal about you (including your name, address) than what was essentially needed. Here is where comes the concept of Zero-knowledge Proofs - Verifying the truth without knowing what the truth is. The system should be inclusive so everybody can use it by a low tech mobile application.

Some things that you may find interesting-

Article I am reading: Infinity Is a Beautiful Concept — And It's Ruining Physics

Thought I am pondering upon: If you cook a potato, it becomes soft. But if you cook an egg it becomes hard. Which are you?

Song I am listening to: Save your tears by The Weekend

Quote I am enjoying: “Some opportunities don’t have the decency to knock even once”

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