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Internet Computer Protocol Introduces Walletless Verifiable Credentials to Enhance Online Privacy

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Internet Computer Protocol Introduces Walletless Verifiable Credentials to Enhance Online Privacy

Verified Credentials (VCs), a walletless solution that facilitates the efficient and reliable sharing of personal data while preserving privacy and control, have been introduced by Internet Computer Protocol (ICP), a decentralized blockchain network that expands the functionality of Web3 by navigating the boundaries of traditional blockchains and smart contracts.

At the Digital Identity unConference Europe (DICE) 2024 in Zurich, Switzerland, it was formally introduced. Verified Credentials also carry with them the first application created to stop bots and phony accounts from influencing public conversation on social media—an important goal considering that in 2024, over half of the world’s population will be eligible to vote in national elections.

Currently, the majority of users utilize wallets like Metamask to serve as their primary Web3 identity. With VCs, ICP provides a walletless infrastructure and tools for issuing, sharing, and consuming credentials in a privacy-preserving manner.

VCs are created on top of Internet identity (II), a decentralized identity solution that runs end-to-end on the Internet Computer blockchain. They are outlined as one of the primary emphasis areas in ICP’s most recent Roadmap. Instead of using passwords or seed phrases, Internet Identity offers a strong authentication method based on passkeys. The standardized technology that underpins passkeys provides defense against phishing assaults. Because of this, using Internet Identity to log in is safer and more convenient than using conventional ways.

Verifiable credentials are portable, cryptographically secured digital representations of data (accounts, accomplishments, or attributes). A VC is a digital iteration of a physical credential that the possessor may easily share online with service providers that need to verify a claim, such as age or humanity. Through a digital identity provider such as Internet identity, the VC is connected to a user.

Jan Camenisch, CTO of the DFINITY Foundation commented:

“The new Verifiable Credentials feature of Internet Identity addresses long standing problems for online privacy-preserving authentication: all a user needs is a computing device that has a passkey (all recent ones do) and a browser. Apart from dApps on the Internet Computer, traditional systems can also plug in with Internet Identity and allow users to authenticate with Verifiable Credentials, e.g., proving that they are a real person, that they did KYC, or that they are over 18.”

Up until now, users who authenticated to a dApp using Internet Identity were given a unique, pseudonymous identity for every dApp without any other information like name, age, or place of residence. Users may provide their Internet identity identifying attributes by using the Verified Credentials framework.

Without dApps being able to link the credential back to them, the user may simply manage and reuse it. Users are given autonomy over who they share their login credentials with and how much personal data they want to reveal thanks to VCs. For example, selective disclosure allows a user to confirm their age without disclosing their name or birthdate.

Internet Identity generates a unique identity for each end-user when they authenticate to an application. In this manner, users’ online activities cannot be tracked by various programs.

Furthermore, the Verified Credentials framework finds a privacy-preserving solution to the dApp interoperability challenge. Internet Identity (II) serves as a reliable intermediary for Relying Party and Issuers, exchanging credentials under an alias rather than the user’s real principal.

Proof of Unique Humanity (PoUH)

The Proof of Unique Humanity (PoUH), created by Decide AI and used by the decentralized on-chain messaging app OpenChat, is one of the first uses of Verified Credentials in the ICP ecosystem. The identity issuer requires users to authenticate themselves as human beings with a single account on a platform by linking a credential to biometric information like fingerprint, face, or palm print recognition.

The practice of users utilizing bots and numerous identities to remain anonymous has long been seen as a problem that not only fuels the amount of illegal activity carried out online but also serves as the foundation for the poisonous discourse that permeates conventional social media platforms.

According to a Queensland University of Technology research released at the end of 2023, the problem of bots spreading misinformation is growing. A network of 1,200 automated X (formerly Twitter) accounts that garnered over three million impressions was discovered by researchers spreading the conspiracy idea that Trump defeated incumbent President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. They also uncovered a different network of 1,300 accounts, divided into groups, that circulated false information and pro-Trump sentiments.

Proof of Unique Humanity (PoUH) will encourage more moral conversation on social media and assist counteract the activities of bots. The current Proof of Humanity has the drawback of being easily manipulated. In order to get 100 accounts, users or bots may repeatedly complete several proof of humanity tests.
However, by connecting a credential to the biometric data, Proof of Unique Humanity (PoUH) stops individuals from testing several online identities. It gets rid of the possibility that someone would create hundreds of social media profiles or utilize several identities to benefit from airdrops or token farming.

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