ConsenSys, Microsoft, and Blockstack Labs collaborate to create an open-source, self-sovereign, blockchain-based identity system while ex-trader starts a non-profit ID2020 to address the problem at UN-level, through public-private partnership.
According to the United Nations, there are around 1.5bn people across the world who have no way of proving who they are.
Sam Cassatt, chief strategy officer of ConsenSys, says:
“This project represents meaningful progress towards accessible, powerful identity for our world. If successful, we will enfranchise a significant portion of the global population that was previously disenfranchised and democratize access to the rapidly evolving global financial system.”
Microsoft, ConsenSys and Blockstach Labs collaboration
Venture production studio focused primarily on Ethereum, ConsenSys has announced its partnership with Microsoft and Blockstack Labs to work with developers around the world to create an open-source, self-sovereign, blockchain-based identity system.
The announcement claims that the collaboration was solidified at the ID2020 conference, held at the United Nations in New York, where UN members, private companies, and government agencies co-convened to define the problem of identity in the world.
ConsenSys also says to have developed the uPort Identity solution, with integrated support for its reputation system and transactional security system. uPort revolutionizes identity creation and management for potentially 7.4 billion people on the planet.
Christian Lundkvist, lead software architect of uPort, notes:
“I’m very excited about this collaboration, which promises to radically expand the reach and user base of self-sovereign digital identity systems. With this project we are taking a big step towards empowering people who suffer due to the lack of identity, as well as streamlining the fragmented identity systems in our modern society.”
Power to the people
More than 2 billion people in the world who don't have state issued ID, can have their community members attest to their personal information.
Community members can essentially vouch for each other to enable them to develop and use this bootstrapped persistent and portable reputation to, for example, obtain a microloan on a decentralized lending platform and grow a small livelihood from there.
The tight integration of RepSys, as contained in the announcement, enables people, organizations and objects to attest to the conduct of their counterparties with respect to various kinds of transactions: buying/selling, lending/borrowing/repaying, collaborating on projects, gaming interactions, and data quality and reliability.
uPort serves as a container for reputational attributes like email addresses, Facebook URLs or state issued ID. Identity providers like governments, banks and IT companies can cryptographically sign such attributes attesting to their validity using "reputational attestations."
All users of uPort are fully in control of their personal information (expressed as reputational attributes). This encrypted information may be selectively and granularly shared with targeted counterparties when the user deems it to his or her advantage.
Rouven Heck, product manager of uPort, states:
“The massive increase in the usage of smartphones and the internet, combined with blockchain technology, offers a great opportunity to solve identity issues for everyone. Reliable digital identity and reputation will create trust in the digital world, which will fundamentally change the economy. This collaboration is a great foundation to realize the necessary adoption of these tools, independent of the underlying technologies.”
The world began as a decentralised society
Johann Gevers, in his presentation at TEDx Talks titled “The four pillars of a decentralized society” explains how the world has moved from Decentralisation, to Centralisation and heading back to Decentralisation in completion of the cycle.
Almost everyone in the Tech world agrees to the viability of the Blockchain in solving prevailing world data problems.
One major struggle which has become very evident is how to get governments to accept this technology that may consequently strip them of absolute control of certain major societal processes.
Tobias Schwarz, Decentralization and Encryption expert, says:
“I like the idea and the possible disrupt a Blockchain tool could offer. With the cryptographic toolset that the public Blockchain system use, you should have all the necessary functions to implement such a system.”
Blockchain Entrepreneur & Digital Transformation Manager, Manuela Krull-Mancinelli believes that the role of the Blockchain in this theory is obvious.
“I think that the private key in time will replace your ID, just like a passport or other ID currently is. The difference is that the passport, drivers license, etc. are issued by a government. Currently there is no official issuing party for private keys.”
Dealing with social challenges
While speaking to Cointelegraph, Thomas McAlister, Director at Mercchain Ltd, says that using the Blockchain to solve the prevalent identity crisis which the world is facing is not only possible, but that his company is already working on a project to achieve that.
According to McAlister, registration in state civil registries guarantees the right to an identity, recognition and enjoyment of the human rights and benefits to which all persons are entitled. A historical situation of discrimination exists against certain vulnerable groups, including stateless persons, indigenous peoples, persons of African descent, persons with disabilities, migrants and the children of persons deprived of their liberty.
He explains that there are 200 million under-five-year-olds who have no identity. In the Americas, 1.3 million births go unregistered each year and 6.5 million children do not have a birth certificate. The level of under-registration among children between 1 and 5 years of age fell from 18 per cent to 7 per cent, due mainly to the notable effort of States.
These figures should gradually improve, especially since 11 per cent of under-five-year olds in rural areas are still not registered. Under-registration is most prevalent in areas where births do not take place in hospitals. In cases involving children, non-registration implies being exposed to child labour, being arrested or subjected to human trafficking, among other human rights violations.
McAlister points out that there is also a problem of inflexible public registration policies, which exclude diversity. Registration systems are often defective owing to a lack of national policies with appropriate legal and information frameworks, institutional flaws and budget constraints. Civil identification registries are good indicators for gauging the efficiency of the State in general and of the relevant authorities in particular.
The challenge for the legislative branch is to devise new mechanisms and through inter-parliamentary cooperation find solutions to ensure that births are registered.
The birth of a revolution
According to McAlister, his company, Mercchain Ltd has embarked on a project to assist governments, especially of the developing world to tackle this social issues.
McAlister says to Cointelegraph:
“A core focus is to provide and assist particular countries that currently have not got the resources or finances to capture the lost public. For example there is over 30% of the population of Peru who are not even on the government database. We are going to provide this network for free for the first time capture of those who have fallen through the cracks of the government networks in which they cannot reach.”
The core features of the GEN 1.0 network system, is that the design is an impenetrable technological advancement for data security transfer. Also, the integrated ability to securitize all types of transactions of value i.e., currency, commodities, asset storage, contracts etc.
Through design, GEN 1.0 has the capability to service all industries: financial and consumer markets, in addition, the capability to securitize contractual agreements between any (2) or more parties. GEN 1.0 also provides by design, the gateway to capture the many of whom are not currently registered on any Government network system (financial or other).
The blockchain can be utilized for such a greater purpose, concludes McAlister.