What is Sovrin
Sovrin is a Self-Sovereign Identity network based on a public permissioned blockchain.
Let us explain.
In a public blockchain anyone can read and write on the ledger.
The difference is that in permissionless blockchains anyone can be a validator node on the network.
A validator node is an entity that verifies the transactions happening in a blockchain. For example, in the bitcoin blockchain anyone can be a validator node (the so called “miners”).
With permissioned blockchains, as the name says, one requires a permission to be a validator node.
That brings us back to Sovrin.
A Self-Sovereign Identity implies that the identity holder owns his identity. There is no centralised storage of identity. It’s his. It’s in his possession in a wallet in his devices. But how could we then trust that this identity is authentic?
That’s where the blockchain comes in.
Regarding digital identities, no personal information should ever be stored on a blockchain.
Given it’s immutability — nothing can be modified or erased — what would happen if, in 20 years, someone can breach that blockchain?
That’s why the only thing stored on the blockchain are pointers (called Decentralised Identifiers or DIDs). The credentials that the citizen is holding will have an Issuer ID attached. Only the pointers, which are the Issuer ID alongside the key from the authority who issued the credential, are stored on the blockchain. Anyone looking to verify that citizen’s identity will only have to:
- check if there’s a match between the Issuer ID on the blockchain and the Issuer ID attached to the credential.
- check the key of the issuer (say, a government) who attested to the validity of that credential.
Even if the blockchain is breached, the theft of those Credential IDs poses no harm to the citizen. No one can do anything with them.
Nonetheless, given how serious the matter of identity is, Sovrin decided that only permissioned entities should be able to run nodes on it’s blockchain. Those entities are known as Stewards.
Stewards are responsible for validating identity transactions to ensure consistency about what is written on the ledger and in what order. Tykn is one of those Stewards who are allowed to run validator nodes. Along with IBM, Cisco, T-labs and two dozen others (with the aim of having up to 300 Stewards within the network in the long run for optimal decentralised governance).
Sovrin also uses digital standards such as w3c (the specification of the Decentralised Identifiers — the pointers — that is being created by the World Wide Web Consortium). We believe that the creation of one standard is paramount to achieve interoperability between all the players in the identity space.
Sovrin enables trust to exist in the digital world using distributed ledger technology and allows users to have control over their own data in a secure and private way. Although the network is still in development it has a reliable infrastructure and is backed by big companies. Which we see as proof of it’s stability and future potential.
That is why we believe that Sovrin is the ideal partner in our mission to provide access to human rights through digital identities.
Tykn is a digital identity company. We are now about to launch Ana, a digital identity management platform that allows organisations to issue tamper-proof digital credentials which are verifiable anywhere, at any time.
If you’re keen on reading more we suggest this Definitive Guide on Identity Management with Blockchain.
More on Sovrin here.