Current architectures to validate, certify, and manage identity are based on centralised, top-down approaches that rely on trusted authorities and third-party operators. In a new article, co-authored with Tomaso Aste, Centre Research Associate Geoff Goodell approaches the problem of digital identity starting from a human rights perspective, asserting 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.
The authors first define a set of fundamental constraints that digital identity systems must satisfy to preserve and promote human rights. With these constraints in mind, they 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. The article proposes that digital identity differs from others in its approach to trust: by avoiding centralisation and the imposition of trust from the top down, we can encourage individuals and organisations to embrace the system and share in its benefits.