Who are you? It’s a deep question, but legally and logistically it is fundamental to your rights and privileges as an individual. 

And on the Spatial Web it’s not limited to the identity of living beings such as yourself.

As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and more transactions are conducted digitally, a digital representation of one’s identity has become increasingly important; this applies not only to humans, but to devices, legal entities and beyond.

Identity is the first step of every transaction between two or more parties. Over the ages, the majority of transactions between two identities has been mostly viewed in relation to the validation of a credential (‘Is this genuine information?’), verification (‘Does the information match the identity?’) and authentication of identity (‘Does this human/ thing match the identity? Are you really who you claim to be?’). These questions have not changed over time, only the methods have changed.

In the era of the Spatial Web, a historical opportunity has emerged that radically shifts the center of gravity concerning whom we are going to ask these questions to and who we will trust to answer them.

By allowing data ownership to move from companies and governments back to individuals, not only are individuals able to trust that the data they use can be validated through decentralized mechanisms but also organizations and governments can trust that they have reduced their own exposure to liability and risk associated with storage of such sensitive personal information.

THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF IDENTITY

A verifiable and trusted identity is an essential necessity to enable the interactions, transactions, and transportation between people, places, or things. On this much we all can agree.

For humans, this proof of identity is a fundamental prerequisite to access critical services and participate in modern economic, social and political systems. For devices, their digital identity is critical in conducting transactions, especially as the devices will be able to transact relatively independent of humans in the near future.

For legal entities, the current state of identity management consists of inefficient manual processes that could benefit from new technologies and architecture to support digital growth. As the number of digital services, transactions and entities grow, it will be increasingly important to ensure the transactions take place in a secure and trusted network where each entity can be identified and authenticated.

Each person should be able to decide what information about themselves is collected as part of an online profile and of that information, they should have control over who has access to different aspects of it, and in what ways it can be used. Online identity should be maintained as a capability that gives the user many forms of control.

PRIVACY BY DESIGN

The Spatial Web must enable “privacy by design.” Privacy by design provides for individual control, trust, and security. And enables anonymity and auditability. It utilizes cryptographically-secured digital identity to “trustlessly” complete interactions and transactions that previously required the exchange of personal data and layers of verification. With the Spatial Web Protocol Suite the provenance of every thing, person, place, and transaction can be verified via an entry in a Distributed Ledger.

The Spatial Web identity architecture ensures that “privacy by design” is both a foundational principle and a core architectural imperative, where individuals possess the unalienable right to control their own digital identities. Each individual manages precisely what personal information is collected as part of an online profile or service, and defines who has access to this information, and the specific ways it  may be used in any physical or virtual space.

Spatial Web account holders should have an absolute right to define bounded access to the complete contents of their own digital profile at any time. An online identity service can be maintained specifically to manage the many layers of control in a convenient and secure manner, as without a sufficient degree of flexibility and transparency, the trust in a system of federated network identity will be minimal.

INTEROPERABLE ID

A 21st-century digital identity system needs to create global identities, crossing international and virtual boundaries, without losing user control. Thanks to persistence and autonomy, global identities can then become continually available. Of course, these identifiers are not limited to humans. They can be applied to any and all people, places, and things, physical or virtual in nature.

To register the identity of any user, space, or asset on the Spatial Web, an individual or organization must first create an account and request a globally unique “decentralized identifier” (DID) based on W3C Standards. DIDs can be stored on a blockchain with quantum-resistant encrypted private keys which can be coupled with biometric markers and location-specific anchors to provide multi-factor spatial authentication, affording greater resiliency against Sybil and other types of attacks.

The number of IoT devices is estimated to reach 75 billion by 2025, and soon after will begin to approach the trillions. By standardizing data schemas facilitated by the trust enabled by DIDs, every IoT device can contain its own verifiable DID Activities of drones, cameras, cars or robots can be managed via spatial permissions. Essentially enabling a Spatial Contract to define that “these DIDs (drones) are allowed to be inside this DID (Spatial Domain of Santa Monica, CA) on this day/time/ weather etc.” 

Having standardized IDs for any device in the IoT means that a global data commons and marketplace can arise. This will enable a global network of devices where spatially permissioned data can be transferred from machine to human and machine to machine. This free flow of securely-monetized data, functioning like a central nervous system for the planet, can enable ecosystems of efficiencies between humans, machines, and AI between communities, corporations, cities, and countries.

Think of DIDs as super secure URLs for people, places and things instead of just for pages. 

In our current virtual universe of conflicting proprietary standards and easily faked identities, you can also place them  somewhere between solution and salvation.

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A digital representation of one’s identity has become increasingly important; this applies not only to humans, but to devices, legal entities and beyond.