May 29, 2017

Manage your Identity in Blockchains

Why does managing your real identity have to be so difficult in the blockchain-less world? It should be simple enough to prove who you are, yet it really isn’t. The dynamic lifestyle that came with the new millennium includes a package of convenient services that are at our disposal at any time… but only if we can confirm our identity.

ID in the 21st Century

Nowadays everything requires some form of confirmation, the elevator, the door to your apartment building, your chain shops offering you loyalty bonuses, banks, work time clock, etc.
The issue is not so much as the places we’re required to confirm our identity, it’s the vexing equipment we might have to carry with ourselves at all times. The elevator, apartment door and time clock will require two different RFID chips. The chain shops and banks require two different cards. Albeit, only the time clocks, and apartment building chips might be mandatory, but this method is still a hassle.

That’s all the physical equipment to daily things we might encounter. Moreover, people are “required” to have some form of online presence which, again, requires for us to have to confirm our identities again.
With the world slowly turning digital, our key identity documents are also being placed online. This done for the effectiveness of speed and quality that the Internet provides, is still very hazardous and vulnerable to different attacks, as we’ve seen in the last few years of online identities being leaked.

Government and private owned identity records with little to no transparency of how the confirming processes actually happens, without any indicator of how that information is being used, leave a lot of room for fraudulence to happen. Companies could choose to change what data they have over you, even sharing it with other third parties. This and the previous issue of the many ways of confirmation, leave a lot of room for blockchains to help solve.

Blockchain: “Identity Confirmed.”

Blockchains aren’t jacks of all trades, but they do promise to solve - through regular proof-of-concepts and implementations - present critical issues of security and transparency. A ledgering technology that prides itself on decentralization, anonymity, and total transparency isn’t exactly what these industries are shooting for, but it’s the possibility of choosing the degrees on applying these traits that make it so valuable.

In blockchains the user would not be decentralized completely, he would still have a higher entity, such as a government, but the upsides of a blockchain application to identity management would mean giving more power, meaning more responsibility, to the person with regards to his own identity.

These promising features do have their challenges before seeing any promising results. The issues on implementing blockchains are primarily:

1. How much control do we give to someone over his identity
The most natural answer would be “Complete control”. Yet this answer wouldn’t be the smartest and most efficient one. If third parties only provided measures of confirming identities, this would leave all the other procedures up to us, and being human entails having a lot of information about you, your health, your wealth, ID, shoe size, etc.

It may be critical that an individual has complete control on matters that may end up being interpreted in his social or professional life, yet still have an entity to take control of the mass paperwork, otherwise, it would render the functionality impossible.

2. How do we give mutual trust to separate entities
Since all forms of ID have limited reach before their power runs out, the trust between third-parties is essential. Private companies sharing data with governments, and vice-versa, have to first provide a framework in which data can be exchanged and verified between one-another. These stateless protocols are the key component of blockchain implementations.

Blockchains are the Probable Solution

Through blockchains, start-ups and governments could work together to develop proof-of-concepts on methods of confirming an identity solely through biometrics - features that a person carries with him at all times. The data could then be in possession of the individual, choosing to share only what is needed for confirmation; protection of privacy and efficiency.

To finalize blockchains in identity management we must have at least one uniform method of verification, that would give an individual his identity’s power at all times around the globe. This means that during travel, a person will have methods of confirming his identity, only sharing what data is necessary to do so.

For this to actually happen, patience and effort are key. Blockchains have gotten a bad rep for being overused as a Messiah technology, but to fulfill all the lengthy lists of promising applications, it must be given its work and time. The technology promises to carve a way for the individual to have sovereignty - power and control - over himself and what he shares — a difficult task that some people would rather choose not to have. You have to think of all possible outcomes because every person has an identity, and a blockchain system could provide a universal method of proving it..