More importantly, will it improve the way we share information online?
These days we are asked to share personal information online practically every day. We don’t always know who to trust with this information and often have reservations about giving it out. The fact is, any company can have their servers hacked and digital identity theft has also increasingly become a major problem. How do we protect our information while still being able to verify our identities? This is where the blockchain comes in.
What is the blockchain?
Blockchain technology was created by mysterious Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto to make Bitcoin transactions safe and anonymous. It’s a distributed ledger that stores information on users computers around the world. It is incredibly difficult to hack, and information on the blockchain can’t be changed once it has been stored. This makes it perfect for digital currency, but what about as a way to store our personal information?
Is the blockchain the future of identity management?
Some experts believe that the blockchain is not the place to be storing personal information so we can share it safely. After all, it was created to be completely anonymous. The whole point of the blockchain is that you put your trust in the system rather than the people using it. However, leaders within tech giants such as IBM and Microsoft think it could be the future of identity management. Microsoft even has plans to integrate blockchain technology into their secure authentication app, which allows their users to log onto their Microsoft accounts from their smartphones.
When asked about the issue by Techcrunch, Jerry Cuomo, IBM’s VP of blockchain technologies, had this to say:
“Imagine a world where you are in direct control of your personal information; a world where you can limit and control how much information you share while retaining the ability to transact in the world. This is self-sovereign identity, and it is already here. The blockchain is the underlying technology paving the path to self-sovereign identity through decentralized networks. It ensures privacy and trust, where transactions are secure, authenticated and verifiable and endorsed by relevant, permissioned participants.”
With two of the tech world’s biggest companies seemingly on board, it seems the idea is firmly starting to take route.
What are the benefits of blockchain identity management?
Usually, when you provide information to a company it goes through a third party broker. You have no way of knowing if this broker is reliable, they might be selling your information to mailing lists or planning to steal your identity or banking details. With blockchain identity management the information is completely decentralised. The user is entirely in control of what they put out into the world and who can see it. This gives people unparalleled power over their own identities.
Due to the fact that once something has been stored on the blockchain it can’t be altered users would only have to verify the information once, when the put it on the blockchain. After that people would be secure in the knowledge that they are already verified by the blockchain so they would require a lot less information. This means that you only need to reveal the vital information involved in what you are doing. You’re pre-verified and therefore no longer have to provide any proof of your identity, for example, an ID document, that might contain sensitive information.
With blockchain identity management you will finally have full autonomy over your own identity. Everything from online shopping to internet banking would become a safe and simple endeavour, free from the worry of where your information might end up. Most importantly, unlike other third-party systems, it can’t be hacked. Blockchain technology is already changing the world in so many ways, this is just a drop in the ocean of what it can do.
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