The most recent podcast episode featured Kaliya Young and Lucy Yang for a discussion on the technicalities that lie behind self-sovereign digital identity systems.
The episode covers a wealth of information on the topic, including:
- Why digital identity is so important and how it differs from the physical realm
- The tools Kaliya and Lucy are developing to enable self-sovereign identities
- Whether anonymity or pseudonymity is feasible while maintaining accountability
- Wallet Wars: how might wallets evolve and consolidate across the public and private sector
- The principles of physical identity that must carry over into a digital solution and the importance of Opens Standards
It became clear in the conversation that there are many burgeoning innovations even within this specific area of digital identity management which itself is a broader field. I asked Kaliya and Lucy whether we are heading for a situation that could cause confusion for the consumer, with some digital ID systems for public services being delivered by the government, whilst other private services are accessed via a plethora of competing digital ID apps. As Lucy said, "I do see all kinds of wallets existing, which will be confusing for individuals in the short-term...things are pretty fragmented now... to start with there will be lots of wallets out there in the market."
Just after I interviewed them, the announcement came that UK cinemas including Cineworld, Odeon, Showcase Cinemas, and Vue will now be accepting the Yoti digital ID app to verify a customer's age. This means that young people 13 and older can prove their age using their smartphones, doing away with the need to carry important ID documents such as a passport. It is very reminiscent of the example from Jersey that I talk about in my book, where half of 18-25 yr olds there have already downloaded the Yoti app to prove their age at retail or hospitality establishments like festivals. Perhaps we should not be surprised that digital ID is being adopted by digital natives but it does mean that society is changing for everyone, overall.
Kaliya, a pioneer in decentralised solutions for digital ID, has worked on this for over twenty years and still concerned that some of the Web 2 players will pursue their own wallets within their walled gardens, rendering another form of 'lock in' for users. And she is adamant that in this digital world we are entering, we need to see it as our wallet. She says we need to control our wallets regardless of what platforms we use, and that monopolistic players should not be able to lock in users and control the ecosytem. As she warns, 'you can end up with a system where verifiers have to pay every time.'
If you'd like to learn more about self-sovereign digital identity, tune in to Episode 7 of the podcast here, or check out some of the articles and events below - including my radio appearance in Canada on CBC's tech programme Spark where, along with the philosopher David Chalmers, host Nora Young and I discuss the implications of a Digital Self.