Whether Self-Sovereign Identity can fix the world
Updated: 2 days ago
In the previous article, we talked about this cool thing called self-sovereign identity (SSI) and how it could change the world. One of the potential breakthrough projects made with SSI could be the Web 3.0 social network. But let's start by discussing why I think the world and the Internet need some major improvements, and how I became a big fan of SSI.
For those who don't want to jump between articles, self-sovereign identity is all about democratizing trust management, giving control of personal data back to individuals, and digitizing things like IDs and diplomas.
Right now, there's this awesome social network and browser extension combo that goes by different names in the social network and Web 3.0 social space. It allows users to comment and discuss online resources directly on web pages. To understand how it relates to self-sovereign identity, we'll need to dig deeper into its features and implementation. But before we do that, let's take a step back and talk about SSI and how it can address global concerns.
Why I work on "saving the world", SSI solutions
Hey, I'm from Belarus. Since the mid-1990s, we Belarusians have been dealing with a not-so-great political regime, backed by the Russian government. In 2020, our attempt to get rid of the regime failed, thanks in part to Russia's support. That failure resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of political prisoners, refugees, and political emigrants. And things got even worse in 2022, when Russia tried to occupy Ukraine.
These events affected me deeply, so in late 2020, I made it my mission to find a way to reduce the chances of similar events happening in the future. Of course, I chose a path that aligns with my skills as a software generalist. I started looking for a technological solution that could help build grassroots democracy without any central authority or leaders. I also wanted something that would prevent any corrupt government from abusing tools of trust management, like elections. Eventually, with the help of like-minded people, my research led me to the ideas of self-sovereign identity. Since then, SSI has become the core of my work and something I'm passionate about spreading the word.
On the one hand, self-sovereign identity may sound like it can reduce the influence of governments and corporations (which is a whole other article topic). But on the other hand, after doing some research and playing around with the code and features, I can confidently say that it actually helps tackle the problem of trust monopolization and privacy breaches. You know, those situations where the wrong people get access to your data, whether it's despotic political groups, corporations, or cyber-criminals.
Reduced digital footprint. When you use SSI-based interactions, the verifier (the person you share the documents with) shouldn’t check them with the issuer. So your interaction is private in comparison with the cases when the data is checked via some registry or direct contact with the issuer. For example, in contrast to the SSI-based approach, when you log into some resource with Google auths, Google knows about it.
So, what are the benefits of SSI-based solutions?
Decentralization of trust. Anyone can become an issuer or signer who may issue his or her self-made verifiable documents and claims at no cost. Governments spend millions on costly trust issuing and verification procedures. Corporations have the same problems but on a lesser scale. You just don’t know how much Google pays for your let’s login everywhere in terms of infrastructure cost;
The verifier is willing to decide which issuers to trust, while the verification is based on cryptography right on the verifier's device. Which is much cheaper and easier (just dumb math) than complicated procedures or costly and vulnerable servers and physical solutions (stamps, watermarks, ink signatures, and other nonsense);
All your data is stored on the holder devices. It allows to avoid costly server storage. It also allows you to stop sharing data with intermediaries and final services while you may keep using them (hello, GDPR-compliance out of the box). You even can use online services much faster, because you shouldn’t register or log in, while they don’t need to cross-authorize different actions via APIs;
The previous point is also a powerful means of protection against potential data breaches on centralized servers, which are usually the main subject of hacker attacks and data leaks. Yes, the truth is, that your laptop or phone is usually much harder to crack if we compare it with some enterprise server. On top of that, it’s less cost-efficient to steal data from separate devices, rather than a database with thousands and millions of profiles stored by a single enterprise or a government server.
In conclusion, self-sovereign identity (SSI) offers a promising solution to the challenges we face in today's world. SSI democratizes trust management, empowering individuals with control over their personal data. By reducing our digital footprint and ensuring privacy, SSI revolutionizes how we interact with online resources and addresses global concerns.
With SSI, trust becomes decentralized, allowing anyone to create verifiable documents and claims. The verification process is simpler, cheaper, and conducted through cryptography on the verifier's device. Additionally, all data is stored on personal devices, eliminating the need for expensive server storage and reducing the risk of data breaches. This gives individuals more control over their information and the ability to choose which services to share it with, while enjoying faster access to online resources.
Let us continue to explore and advocate for self-sovereign identity, spreading awareness of its benefits. Together, we can strive for a future where individuals have full control over their digital identity and data, and where trust is democratized and privacy is respected.
Thank you for joining us on this journey! In our upcoming blog, we'll be diving into the fascinating world of SSI topics. Curious to learn more? Keep an eye out for our next post.