ConsenSys, the Ethereum development studio, presented the case for self-sovereign identity to an audience of government officials, academics, and technology leaders at the United Nations. Identity and reputation can be both secure and placed in the control of users via decentralised platforms like Ethereum which will support the next generation of the internet.
ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin and chief strategy officer Samuel Cassatt began by introducing the Ethereum platform; sometimes called "the world's computer", it's a shared network which can host economically-incentivised applications without the need for trusted central governing entities.
They were speaking at the World Jurist Association Side Event of the Fifty-Fifth Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD55).
Lubin explained the idea of self-sovereign identity on a decentralised Web 3.0, and how this development, enabled by blockchain, is positioned to help people in both the developed and developing world.
The blockchain-based self sovereign identity puts users in control of their identity and data, and thus offers financial inclusion to individuals and regions that have been locked out of the global economy by lack of access to government services.
According to the World Bank, United Nations, and ID2020 project, there are currently 2-2.5 billion people among the "unbanked", who could benefit significantly from blockchain-based identity.
Lubin said: "Blockchain is the first global long term, permission-less, transparent, non-reputable, shared database. It is really the first appropriate context for establishing global identity. In the developing world, a person could establish their own blockchain identity and have their social context, launch attestations that share reputation with the person being identified, and in that way, establish a portable reputation on the blockchain, and perhaps get a micro loan."
Samuel Cassatt introduced uPort, the Ethereum-based identity platform developed by ConsenSys, and explained why Ethereum is the blockchain of choice for establishing blockchain-based global identity.
Cassatt said: "We often think of identity as something that's given to us, a constellation of items that is rubber stamped or sanctioned by an entity that is not myself. In blockchain technology, you are the origin of that identity. Rather than a human construction, on blockchain [identity] is a number like an account. That's what I log into, what I can sign with, the fabric for interconnected agreements that are automatically executed."