Want to own your data? Start by owning your identity

The map of our identity is often linked to physical and digital artifacts. We not only have birth certificates, and ID cards…we also have digital proof of identity. In digital spaces, we often have multiple identities that we need to create, and attend to.

Since the advent of the internet, the need to create identities has multiplied. Platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Apple or Airbnb provide you with an identifier, a way to register your personal data that is relevant to them, together with a method to prove this data identifies you, generally a password.

Online identities or siloed identities have been designed focusing on the different platforms and their needs. Users are secondary. Multiple systems are created to provide a tool for these companies to administer identifiers and attributes within a specific domain. In the meantime, users end up with multiple “personalities” who don’t even belong to them. Each identity belongs to the system where you created it. And in the meantime, you continue leaving a trail of identity breadcrumbs across the virtual world. A fragmented identity, upon which you have no control or ways to benefit.

What if you didn’t have to create a new identity for each of these accounts and spaces? What if you could create one “proof of identity” and lend this identity to the new account as you connect online?

This idea is called self-sovereign identity (SSI). SSI is based on the concept that we all are the makers of our own identity, online and offline. Because SSI does not rely on a centralized authority, self-sovereign identity systems are decentralized, matching the way identity works in real life.

The post goes on to discuss the ways in which this would work, and examples of the infrastructure that could be used to make it a reality.

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