What we all missed about Facebook’s Blockchain announcement: Self-Sovereign Identity

A major goal of the Libra Association, the nonprofit Facebook has created to manage the project’s development, is to use Libra to revolutionize the concept of Digital Identity’

Posted 27 June 2019 by Gary Flood

Earlier this month, Facebook got a lot of attention about the currency implications of its ‘Libra‘ Blockchain, due to drop sometime in the first half of next year.

But, as a very interesting analysis in MIT Technology Review points out, we may need to actually divert our eyes instead to what the company says in its Libra announcement about Digital Identity.

‘Blockchain Technology’ on Flickr by surya s (c) All Rights Reserved

That’s because a major goal of the Libra Association, the non-profit Facebook has created to manage the project’s development, is to use Libra to “revolutionise the concept of Digital Identity”, as the magazine notes this week – aka, a way to offer a new basis for Self-Sovereign Identity.

The documentation specifically says this: “An additional goal of the association is to develop and promote an open Identity standard [as] we believe that decentralized and portable Digital Identity is a prerequisite to financial inclusion and competition.”

The article points out that if this happens, “in theory” it could provide a way to avoid having to trust a single, centralized authority to verify and take care of our identifying credentials.

And for Internet users, it would mean that instead of relying on Facebook or Google’s own log-in tool to provide our credentials to other websites, “we could own and control them ourselves”.

As the article admits, it’s hard to say how decentralized Libra’s new identity system would be as so far, Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t revealed anything about what it’s planning – and decentralised Identity is not that easy a problem to crack.

But if this does come off, it could have enormous implications right across the Identity sphere, so we’d all best keep an eye on all things Libra Association, it seems.