The rising importance of digital identity and data as valuable assets in the digital age has sparked discussions and initiatives centered around Self-Sovereign (SSI) and Decentralized Identity, aiming to empower individuals with control over their own data and privacy in the era of web3.0.
Self-Sovereign Identity & Decentralized Identity are not exactly the same, but have a lot in common. In fact, SSI is mostly used in the case of blockchain-based identity management.
A few fundamental aspects of self-sovereign identity have been developed over time with particular value advantages.
These characteristics demonstrate how a self-sovereign identity management system could enable users to fully control identity ownership and administration without relying on other parties.
On a particular blockchain network, a self-sovereign identity denotes a permanent identity that is entirely accessible exclusively by the person or entity owning the identity. Nevertheless, at the right moment, some SSI features can be presented to any other address.
It is worth noting that identity theft problems are lessened by the benefits of encryption and decentralization that come with self-sovereign identities.
Technical Aspects of SSI
SSI points to the complexity of developing trust in an interaction between parties. One party must present credentials in order for this trust to be established during an interaction, and the reliant parties can then confirm that the credentials were granted by a reputable source.
This allows the verifier’s trust to be transferred from the issuer to the credential holder. It is basically a triangular structure consisting of the holder, verifier, and issuer.
It has become common knowledge that users control the verifiable credentials they possess and that their permission is needed in order to use those credentials for an identity system to be self-sovereign. As a result, there is a decrease in unintended user data sharing.
The concept of centralized identity, where an external entity grants identity, is in contrast to this. In a self-sovereign identity (SSI) system, individuals create and control decentralized IDs, which serve as unique identifiers. As a matter of fact, most SSI systems utilize public-key cryptography to verify credentials, which are stored in digital wallets and secured on a blockchain.
The credentials may include information from a database maintained by the issuer, information from a social network account, a history of purchases made on an online store, or verification from friends or coworkers.
Simulated Life Example
In a simulated example, picture yourself as a job seeker who has to prove their qualifications. With SSI, the digital wallet allows you to create your self-sovereign identity and request your university to issue a verifiable credential directly to your wallet.
The credential, such as a digital diploma, is securely signed by the university and stored tamper-proof.
Therefore, when you apply for a job, you present your digital wallet to the employer, who can instantly verify the authenticity of your qualifications, enhancing privacy, and a more efficient way to manage digital identities.
The employer in this case takes the role of the verifier by using digital verification tools to approve the authenticity of the certificate presented by the identity holder (job seeker) based on the verifiable credential issued by the trusted issuer (university).
To sum up, SSI aims to offer individuals control over personal data. Securely stored using blockchain and cryptographic techniques, identities are protected from breaches and theft.
While simplifying identity management across platforms, SSI empowers marginalized communities by providing verifiable digital identities, enabling access to crucial services and promoting inclusivity.
Nevertheless, in the age of technology, where digital identity and data have become incredibly valuable, there are still significant challenges that require attention, such as establishing suitable legal frameworks and promoting education on the topic, as they are the basis of healthy new ventures.