Identity verification is an age-old tool to confirm that people are who they claim to be. With digital identities, there is a greater need for verification. This is especially so as people operate in an online environment where anyone can adopt any identity.
Digital identities come in many forms, and one person could have several of them. A digital identity includes your social, personal, civic, enterprise, or other information.
Since digital identities are here to stay, the need for a method to uniquely identify people all over the world becomes important.
Why is a Unified Identity Important?
Unified digital identities offer several benefits. First, they help improve security and control over information. Through unified digital identities, organizations can reduce their threat surfaces. This strengthens their cybersecurity.
Second, unified digital identities can help organizations improve user experience. Consumers and employees expect a smooth experience when completing transactions or activities online. For example, travelers want to easily prove their identity easily across different airports and countries.
Thirdly, having a unified digital identity helps address certain challenges, such as those that arose with the pandemic. Due to the airborne nature of COVID-19, smartphone location data provided the government with a reliable way to help in contact tracing. Stakeholders can also track compliance to protective measures in the event of another pandemic.
The Role of Blockchain in a Unified Digital Identity
Blockchain has provided a potential identity management solution due to its immutable nature. With blockchain, experts are looking to develop a solution that allows users to prove their identity without revealing unnecessary information.
Since privacy is a major concern for a majority of people and businesses, blockchain can provide an ideal solution. People can prove that they meet certain requirements without having to disclose the actual information. For instance, you can prove that you are 18 or over without disclosing additional details such as your date or year of birth.
Blockchain provides the opportunity to create a portable, encrypted digital identity, Compatible across various platforms, without the need for centralized storage.
The decentralized storage for these digital identities protects users from the risk of data compromise in a hacking incident or the risk of becoming fodder for identity theft.
Risks of a Unified Digital Identity
Used in the right way, a digital identity is a tool for convenient identity verification. However, as with all technologies containing personal information, privacy and human rights are major concerns.
Trust is a significant factor in convincing people to fully embrace unified digital identities. This means that users and stakeholders must be certain that the personal data they have will be used only for the proper purposes.
Another concern with digital identities is the potential for abuse by governments. Authoritarian governments might be more likely to abuse unified digital identities if they are not built with the proper safeguards.
Due to these concerns, identity management experts suggest the use of self-sovereign systems that give full control of information to its owner. In this case, the owner controls where, how long, and how the information is stored.
What the Future Looks Like
As digital identities become a central part of our society, the need for these identities to be unified becomes more important. Due to privacy concerns and the risks associated with having a unified digital identity, more identity holders will want control of their information. Therefore, identity management solutions should give identity owners autonomy and control over their data.