Excitement surrounding Web3 continues to build, but one must consider the impact on data and privacy. Establishing a viable digital identity solution is paramount in this scenario. Self-sovereign identity, or SSI, is one of the more intriguing options for that purpose, designed to empower users and give them data control.
Changing The Way Online Identities Work
Many people look forward to the transition from Web2 to Web3. It marks a crucial change in the way data is shared and managed and the monetization aspect of finding reliable data streams. Ultimately, Web3 aims to help users manage their data better and explore new monetization opportunities when they opt to share sensitive information with third parties. However, that process will require a different approach to identity management.
More specifically, developers worldwide am to establish a solution for digital identities. As this identity needs to be manageable by users of all types, the shift to self-sovereign identities is unavoidable. It provides a very different user experience, as most people connect social media applications to the service they use and rely on those connections for convenient access. For example, using a Twitter or Facebook login to access news websites and online stores is convenient and puts much data in select few entities.
These big technology companies are not in favor of self-sovereign identity. In 2021, Google, Apple, and Mozilla openly opposed a pivotal standard to make SSI a reality. Despite the opposition, such a standard will be created sooner or later. More data thefts, identity thefts, cybercrime, and hacking incidents occur every year. Too much user information is at risk due to poor management by the companies swearing to protect their users.
The transition to Web3 will remove the reliance on those third parties. Instead, all communication occurs in a decentralized manner, facilitating peer-to-peer interactions. Moreover, there will be no record tampering, as Web3 runs on blockchain technology, creating immutable records. It also paves the way for self-sovereign identity and lets users determine how they share their data and with whom.
Managing Identity In A Web3 Environment
While the concept of a self-sovereign identity sounds appealing, it is essential to grasp the concept fully. The Web3 environment prioritizes privacy, control, interoperability, and accessibility. That can only work by using opens standards adopted by many developers, content providers, and so forth. Those standards also need to be easy enough to build new products and services on top of or migrate existing services accordingly.
Additionally, these open standards need to be secure enough to support self-sovereign identity and the credentials associated with this approach. Establishing and securing one's digital identity without compromising decentralization and immutability can be a challenging balancing act.
The process removes storing personal information in centralized databases and lets users choose which information they want to share. As such, the user experience needs to be streamlined, accessible, and easy enough to understand regardless of technical knowledge.
Introducing self-sovereign identity can unlock new use cases in the Web3 environment. Ranging from addressing plagiarism in the NFT industry to using NFTs for online identities and new products and services across the decentralized finance ecosystem are just some options to look forward to. The impact of SSI on Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) should not be underestimated either and can lead to broader participation in such efforts.
What About Identity Verification?
When the topic of identity comes up, one must also consider verifying said credentials. Establishing a digital identity through open standards is appealing, but a system to verify users are who they claim to need to be put in place. Performing Know-Your-Customer and other checks remains paramount when dealing with trading platforms, exchanges, and other centralized service providers.
One group of developers exploring this concept has established the KILT Protocol. It is an open-source protocol issuing decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials. Users create their self-sovereign identity and keep personal data close to their chest. Moreover, the team establishes SocialKYC, a decentralized identity verification solution letting users manage, store, and use personal credentials. Users can select which specific online services can access private information.
Proving one's identity through SocialKYC occurs by proving control over social accounts (LinkedIn, TikTok, Discord, etc), email addresses, or phone numbers. After the verification has been completed, SocialKYC will "forget" about the user and the credential. No personal data is stored or siloed, putting the user in full control. Additionally, applications will not need to make repeated authentication and verification requests to the user.
Revocable credentials can be of great value across many industries. It al comes down to who embraces this concept and protocol, as building on the KILT protocol is straightforward for developers and entrepreneurs. Once the protocol has gained traction among those groups, they can roll out the services to users worldwide.
The advent of Web3 helps users and businesses cast off the shackles forced upon them by data monopolies. Moreover, it empowers users to embrace their personal data and interact with online services with peace of mind. Knowing personal data is not being shared or harvested without express consent is a much-needed wind of change in the technology industry.
KILT Protocol provides developers a technology stack to build new and improved portals, services, products, and protocols. The native SocialKYC integration can also benefit a growing variety of use cases. Although Web3 is not set in stone, solutions like these offer a glimpse of what may be possible through decentralization, blockchain technology, and user empowerment.
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