Self-Sovereign Identity Explained in 10 Quotes by 3 Industry Experts

The idea of Self-Sovereign Identity is not an easy one to grasp. So here are 10 quotes from 3 Self-Sovereign Identity industry leaders that might help you get a better understanding of the concept.

The Status-Quo of Identity

“SSI is the newest of the three models of digital identity. In the oldest model, known as the traditional or “siloed” model, a centralized organization issues or licenses a digital credential to an individual to access its services. The individual needs a unique set of credentials for each entity that she interacts with, making for a poor overall user experience.

This hassle led to the emergence of a second model known as the “federated model”. In this model, a third-party identity provider (“IDP”) provides the individual with digital credentials for signing on or logging into various other services through a “single sign-on” or “social log-in” button. The IDP then “federates” this login to the particular entity or service that the individual is trying to access (e.g. “login with Facebook” or “login with Google”).” (Source)
 — Elizabeth M. Renieris (Global Policy Counsel at Evernym)

Elizabeth M. Renieris

“Before blockchain we had to create massive databases that you left to others — it’s painful. That’s why you see “Login with Facebook” and “Login with Google” everywhere — they are the organizations with both the scale and financial reasons for hosting that expensive database.” (Source)
— Darrell O’Donnell (Technology and Strategy Advisor at Continuum Loop Inc.)

Granting control of digital identity to centralized authorities of the online world suffers from the same problems caused by the state authorities of the physical world: users are locked in to a single authority who can deny their identity or even confirm a false identity. Centralization innately gives power to the centralized entities, not to the users.” (Source)

— Christopher Allen (Blockchain & Decentralized Identity Architect)

“While this approach solves some of the customer experience problems associated with the siloed approach, it requires the need to trust the IDP as a middleman between the individual and the organization whose services she is trying to access.” (Source)
— Elizabeth M. Renieris

What changed with Blockchain?

“At its core, blockchain/DLT is designed to solve the “double spend” problem, i.e. the fact that digital information is very easy to copy and reproduce. In the case of a real world asset like money, the problem can be framed as — how do you prevent someone from spending the same money twice?

Turning back to identity — once digitized to constitute “online” or “digital identity,” that identity becomes a digital asset. So what is identity theft or fraud? Fundamentally, it’s someone other than you trying to “spend” your identity or, put differently, more than one party trying to use the same identity twice. Viewed this way, it’s clear that identity fraud is simply a double spend problem.

This is where the promise of blockchain and blockchain-based self-sovereign identity solutions come into play.” (Source)
— Elizabeth M. Renieris

“But what does blockchain allow here? First off it allows a globally shared ledger so we can all see it. We also can agree that the information on this ledger hasn’t been messed with (i.e. what’s there can’t be changed — it is immutable), and anyone can use it. It also allowed a very subtle, but crucial shift — you and I could actually own our own digital identity.” (Source)
 — 
Darrell O’Donnell

So what is Self-Sovereign Identity?

“Self-Sovereign Identity is the next step beyond user-centric identity and that means it begins at the same place: the user must be central to the administration of identity. That requires not just the interoperability of a user’s identity across multiple locations, with the user’s consent, but also true user control of that digital identity, creating user autonomy. To accomplish this, a self-sovereign identity must be transportable; it can’t be locked down to one site or locale.” (Source)
 — 
Christopher Allen

Christopher Allen

“It’s about you controlling your digital identity. Meaning you control what you share (or don’t share) with the various companies and people you deal with.” (Source)
 — 
Darrell O’Donnell

“The individual sits in the middle of her data ecosystem and exerts sovereign or individual control over each transaction or exchange of personal data relating to her. Moreover, rather than concentrating control of data stores and silos in the hands of a few large corporates, in the SSI model, data collection, storage, and processing are decentralized across a flat data ecosystem.” (Source)
 — 
Elizabeth M. Renieris

“In 10 years nobody will care that the advent of self-sovereign identity created a seismic shift in both technology and the balance of power. What they will care about is that their lives have been improved. They won’t talk about privacy, security, and other things that we talk about.

And somebody, in 10 years, is going to say “Really? You let a big company control your identity and monitor everything you did? Why would you do that?”.” (Source)
 — 
Darrell O’Donnell

Darrell O’Donnell

Thank you to Elizabeth M. RenierisDarrell O’Donnell and Christopher Allen for the work they are producing to advance Self Sovereign Identity! Make sure to follow them on Twitter!

Learn more about Tykn’s Digital Identity platform here.

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