In a demonstration of the potential for decentralized digital identity solutions to enhance IT infrastructure, researchers at Bundesdruckerei — a federal government security company who supplies, for example, German national ID cards, passports, and driver’s licenses — have tested a Blockchain based self-sovereign identity solution. Bundesdruckerei digital identity experts are working with different ID management solutions and technologies. One of these approaches was done with the Jolocom identity library and wallet. Identity information remains under the complete control of the citizen via their Jolocom SmartWallet downloaded onto their mobile device.
Developing the proof-of-concept
Researchers at Bundesdruckerei merged Jolocom software for decentralized identity and access management with existing government IT infrastructure for identification and verification to create one of the early proof-of-concepts for decentralized digital German IDs. The proof-of-concept, built in 2019, enables a citizen to obtain a digital version of their official, government-issued credentials — like their national ID card, driver’s license, or residency card — directly to their mobile devices, equipped with a Jolocom SmartWallet. Citizens can then reuse their credentials to engage public & private sector services in a variety of interactions — to ride share, request a student ID card, receive discounts on public transportation, and more.
In this decentralized model, the citizen retains complete control over their own legal identity throughout every service interaction.Combining the potential of credentials in the self-sovereign identity world with sophisticated public sector technology, like passport validation, Bundesdruckerei has created this proof-of-concept to showcase how the same quality attestation can be provided in self-sovereign use cases.
Together, the public sector and self-sovereign identity tools can unlock a world of potential for people to interact with services in a fast, efficient and privacy preserving way.
Why decentralized digital IDs?
While the push to digitize government services is not a new phenomenon, some governments have looked beyond digitization to decentralization as a comprehensive solution to common identity and access management challenges in government. In addition to affording better usability than digital services, decentralized digital services allow users to remain completely in control of their identity data. Users can reuse their credentials, making for faster interactions, with privacy built-in as a default. Decentralized models also benefit from low data management costs, and are often seen as a compliance mechanism for new privacy standards, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) launched Europe-wide in May 2018.
This particular proof-of-concept is an early example of an issuing and verification authority merging its existing technology with self-sovereign identity software. Already, Bundesdruckerei’s work in this area has been deployed in a live use case. Recently concluded, the Xride pilot offered fully decentralized ride sharing to Deutsche Telekom employees in Bonn and Berlin. Pioneered by T-Labs, Jolocom worked with Bundesdruckerei and other partners to provide decentralized identity infrastructure and verification allowing seamless and decentralized communication between rider and machine.
The next steps for this technology will include a real world pilot in Germany in 2020. This could not have come at a more appropriate time, off the heels of the announcement of the German Blockchain Strategy. This strategy places particular focus on identity, and this proof-of-concept represents a perfect use case in line with the strategy vision.
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Diving into the demo
To demo this proof-of-concept, Bundesdruckerei published an online portal showcasing the seamless transition from analog ID card to digital credential issuance, and further demonstrates the interaction between citizens and services using citizens’ freshly minted digital, decentralized ID credentials. To follow along using the services portal (link above) the Jolocom SmartWallet (Android | iOS) is required.
In the first interaction, municipal employees verify citizen ID cards and driver’s licenses either through a manual, in-person verification process, with a Bundesdruckerei PC equipped with a badge reader, or with an ID reader-machine issued by Bundesdruckerei (see graphic 2, above).
Employees then issue this data directly into citizens’ SmartWallets and can further use this information to issue driver’s licenses, residents parking permits, or municipal registration information (see graphic 1, above). Now, citizens can store, and (re)use their personal information from the moment they leave the authority office from the convenience of their smartphones.
Two demo service interactions are made available as part of this proof-of-concept enabling citizens to (1) interact with a public transportation authority to receive discounted tickets, pensioner monthly passes, or rideshare; and (2) interact with a university to receive a student ID directly to their SmartWallets (see graphic 3 & 4, above).
Jolocom’s role in the proof-of-concept
Jolocom’s software is fully open source. Therefore, our role at Jolocom consisted of making adjustments to the app interface to support Bundesdruckerei’s work, including adding a Documents tab, visual elements for displaying a user’s digital ID cards, and a display for the public profile of the issuer. We also made some minor improvements to the visual styling in order to help users differentiate between claims and credentials and added a filtering functionality for documents (e.g. tagging them as valid or invalid).
This is the third time in 2019 that we had the opportunity to work with a public sector organization on the development of self-sovereign identity systems for citizens. Early 2019 we concluded our work with Blockchain on the Move during the project’s first phase to see how blockchain-backed technologies could practically benefit both Citizen & State by enabling individuals to self-manage their own data and identity.
With more governments exploring the advantages of blockchain and, more specifically, self-sovereign identity, solutions to common identity and access management challenges, we look forward to continuing to offer our open source library, and supporting customizations, where needed.
More demos & deep dives
(test) Avalon and Aelondo Jolocom SmartWallet Demos for e-government and mobility use cases.
(deep dive reading) Explore the Blockchain on the Move e-government proof-of-concept.
(in another industry) Learn more about the Xride pilot.
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This project was mentioned in Enterprise Times.