Self-Sovereign Identity is an emerging, decentralized framework for digital identity management. It allows users to prove beyond doubt that what they claim about themselves can be trusted, as it has been cryptographically signed by other trustworthy entities.
SSI replicates they way identity works in the offline world - we carry paper or plastic identity cards or documents, issued by trustworthy third-parties, and are able to prove who we are, or what abilities or properties we have. What is worth noting is that we use these digital credentials without their issuer being aware of this fact.
Thus, Self-Sovereign Identity is a concept you are already familiar with in the real world. The effort is to port this proven concept into the online environment and leverage the immense business potential of an internet with a built-in trust layer.
The current paradigm could be described as service-based identity. This is how the Internet works today, as "our" digital identities are not really ours - instead they are created, hosted and controlled by third-party service providers.
This approach has many very problematic consequences.
Large amounts of sensitive data is accumulated in isolated data silos, making hacking attempts very likely and profitable.
It's impossible to port your identity from one service to another. Also, there is a lot of inefficiency involved, as each online business needs to verify information about you that has been already verified by another company.
There is no efficient way to control who knows what about you and manage permissions for processing of your data by a third-party.
Monetization of data is possible at the expense of losing privacy, and is usually done by third parties. There is no efficient way to reward users willing to share their personal data, as the user is more of an object than a subject in today’s online identity interactions.
It is a natural need for every individual to have control over their identity. Thus, in an ideal world, there should be no third parties controlling it, as we represent ourselves in our own name. Of course, third parties can still revoke certain claims about you (e.g. police can revoke your driving license), but in SSI, no one stands between you and your digital identity records.What makes self sovereign identity
nobody, including your service provider, is able to impersonate you
nobody can track you without your explicit consent
it's not locked to any particular service or application
others can safely trust your claims by seeing who signed them
you are fully aware who knows what about you
you are the primary beneficiary when your personal data is being traded
to hack the system you’d have to hack every single user’s device separately
it is yours for life, nobody can take it away from you
The most important building block in SSI is known as a Verifiable Credential. It is a cryptographically signed certificate that guarantees the authenticity of the data it refers to. The entire SSI infrastructure is about issuing, verifying and handling of Verifiable Credentials.Three types of independent actors
An entity about whom a Verifiable Credential is created. This can be a physical person, a legal person, or a thing.
An entity that signs a Verifiable Credential and thus certifies the authenticity of information contained in it.
An entity that needs to verify a credential in its line of work.
Verifiable Credentials can contain many types of data - for example, we use them to store consumer’s receipts in the digital world. In this approach, receipts are treated as Verifiable Credentials issued by shops (to certify what products have been purchased) and held directly by consumers.
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