2021 saw a diverse range of events in which Jolocom could participate in. From debates about the future of seIf-sovereign identity (SSI) to the role of trust in the age of AI (Artificial Intelligence) – there were many important take-home messages and ways for us to contribute in discussions. A brief overview of the events we participated in in 2021 also offers a good insight into our goals, values, and projects.
Jolocom took part in a virtual meeting of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) back in February. Also included: the position paper of the organization, which was published in 2020: “Decentralized Identity: What’s at Stake?”. One of the founding principles of Jolocom is the mission to promote the establishment and maintenance of standards in our industry. We were therefore very pleased that Kai led the discussion as an active board member of INATBA and as co-chair of the organization’s Identity Working Group. Together with four stakeholders, he discussed the current role of decentralized identities and how they should shape in the future.
Keryl Folwer from Transmute, Anil John, Director of the Silicon Valley Innovation Program, Dr. Loretta Anania, Research Associate at GD Connect of the European Commission, and Daniel Du Seuil, Belgian Project Leader for Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) formed the discussion group.
The position paper was drawn up by INATBA with the aim of defining the expectations of an open and innovative market in a decentralized identity. It analyzes the current status of SSI developments and opens discussions about the next steps, makes demands on the most important stakeholder groups and sets goals for the future of SSI. Kai asked about the first reactions of the participants to the content of the paper.
Karyl highlighted the role and importance of interoperability. Interoperability is the ability to interact with different systems. If two systems are compatible with each other, they are also called interoperable.
Anil, in turn, spoke out against a “techno-utopianism of a self-sovereign identity”, but made it clear that he believes in personal freedom of choice and control. This is also supported by Jolocom and is one of our basic standards. Using a digital self-sovereign identity (SSI), we are always working on being able to manage the control and security of their own data independently for the individual.
Loretta praised the European Commission’s plan to make the next decade a double transition, with green and digital going into everything. She argued that it is good and important to be there now, at the beginning, especially when the standards are being set. Founded in 2014, Jolocom is very committed to the development of SSI standards. We are always working on building more trust in a decentralized network and protecting the digital autonomy of our own data.
Daniel saw SSI as the answer to the new demand for a European digital ID. If the European digital ID is about empowerment, data protection and new models of data sovereignty, it must be technology-neutral. In the end, says Daniël, the question is always the same: How can we empower citizens?
The discussion between the participants was very lively and underlined, despite different opinions and backgrounds, common values. There was agreement on the increasing importance of digital decentralization, which can be described as a global trend. Furthermore, everyone agreed that this is an interesting time. Both industry and the public sector are more interested in decentralized identities and what they can offer them. Jolocom agreed with the general opinion that working together can also create interoperability.
Since 2019, Jolocom has been a partner to three out of four winning teams in the German innovation competition for setting up Secure Digital Identites (SDI) projects.
At the DWeb Meetup in May 2021, Jolocom was invited to explain its role at ONCE, ID-Ideal and SDIKA in more detail, which Kai Wagner did as our representative. His key message was: The challenges that lie ahead of us also offer great opportunities.
The four projects must be harmonized with EU directives, W3C and the global community in general; this requires coherent concepts and an interoperability infrastructure. SSI and decentralized identities are booming: that’s why it is important to keep pace with market dynamics. The DWeb community can benefit greatly from the projects; However, this requires a coherent infrastructure and uniform concepts. In this way, as many EU citizens as possible are reached, who then get the chance to manage their identity independently.
Kai also presented the background to the projects and their goal. The digital identity card is officially on the market, but it is only actively used by 0.5% of the population. Kai pointed out that Germany does not have a leading role in the field of digital identities. At the end of 2019, four projects were then selected to address these problems.
The topic of “digital identities” is also more up-to-date than ever, especially driven by the corona pandemic and the associated increasing digitization in almost all areas of life. The online event “Digital Identity” of the BFM (Business Research Center) also took place on October 20, 2021 under this topic.
During a lively discussion, the main topics were data security, dealing with skeptics and the costs of a wallet. The group of experts included Irene Adamski as a representative for Jolocom, as well as Fabiane Völter as a research assistant at the University of Bayreuth, Thomas Ruch as the person responsible for credit management at BAUR GmbH and Boris Lingl as Head of Blockchain at DATEV, who tried to answer questions from the audience .
Above all, Irene presented the idea of a wallet and presented SSI as a global trend, which is, however, still a developing market in Germany. Therefore, the questions about the costs of a wallet could not be answered specifically, but it could still be said with certainty: There are no costs for the end user. In addition, the use of a wallet should be voluntary. However, EU citizens must be able to have a wallet made available.
Therefore the term of a transition period came up, which can definitely be expected. Data security is always in the hands of the user. In the event of a request to identify something, they can select and deselect which information they want to share or even reject it completely.
Your own data is encrypted on your own wallet. You only pull out the information that you want to share.
Also in dealing with the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Irene presented the role of SSI as a possible solution. The specialist conference “Trust in the Age of AI-Supported Bots and Fakes: Challenges and Possible Solutions‘ on November 4th included some keynote speeches on the topics of fake reviews, deep fakes, and possible solutions.
Exciting examples of the use of artificial intelligence in everyday life make it clear that this is a global trend. At this lively conference, the dark side of AI was also highlighted. Identity theft, manipulation of politics, dissemination of pornographic content … dangers that arise from AI cannot be ruled out and lead to growing distrust in the digital space. How is this to be dealt with?
This is where the role of SSI comes into play. It is one of Jolocom’s basic principles to maintain and protect the autonomy of citizens. Irene was happy to explain this in more detail.
The basic idea: control your own data. Broken down: selectively choose who has access to his and her data and reject who should not have access. This is well expressed when using a digital wallet: I can prove that I am over 18 years old without having to share my personal date of birth. This selective transfer of data also brings more trust in the digital space with it. A secure wallet provides the opportunity to retain and protect autonomy over your own data in the early days of AI and automated bots.
2021 once again underlined the importance of of SSI is and how it is widely discussed. The team behind Jolocom is very happy to have attended such interesting events and looks forward to many more exciting discussions and meetups in 2022.