A Decentralised Digital Identity Architecture

Frontiers in Blockchain, doi:10.3389/fbloc.2019.00017

30 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2019 Last revised: 14 Nov 2019

See all articles by Geoffrey Goodell

Geoffrey Goodell

University College London

Tomaso Aste

University College London

Date Written: February 23, 2019

Abstract

Current architectures to validate, certify, and manage identity are based on centralised, top-down approaches that rely on trusted authorities and third-party operators. We approach the problem of digital identity starting from a human rights perspective, with a primary focus on identity systems in the developed world. We assert that individual persons must be allowed to manage their personal information in a multitude of different ways in different contexts and that to do so, each individual must be able to create multiple unrelated identities. Therefore, we first define a set of fundamental constraints that digital identity systems must satisfy to preserve and promote privacy as required for individual autonomy. With these constraints in mind, we then propose a decentralised, standards-based approach, using a combination of distributed ledger technology and thoughtful regulation, to facilitate many-to-many relationships among providers of key services. Our proposal for digital identity differs from others in its approach to trust in that we do not seek to bind credentials to each other or to a mutually trusted authority to achieve strong non-transferability. Because the system does not implicitly encourage its users to maintain a single aggregated identity that can potentially be constrained or reconstructed against their interests, individuals and organisations are free to embrace the system and share in its benefits.

Keywords: digital identity, certification, identification, trust, privacy, credentials, authentication, record linkage, entity resolution

Suggested Citation

Goodell, Geoffrey and Aste, Tomaso, A Decentralised Digital Identity Architecture (February 23, 2019). Frontiers in Blockchain, doi:10.3389/fbloc.2019.00017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3342238 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3342238

Geoffrey Goodell (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Tomaso Aste

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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