Self-sovereign identity: a simple and safe digital life

Thema:
Data sharing

Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) gives individuals new ways to manage their data. Logging in with passwords is a thing of the past. And transactions over the Internet and in real life are faster, safer, and easier. SSI is also interesting for organisations. They can save a lot of time, reduce privacy risks, and increase customer satisfaction.

What is Self-Sovereign Identity?

SSI creates trust in digital data exchange. It gives the user control over which personal and other data is shared and with whom. The recipient can quickly verify the shared data electronically, for example, for authenticity and validity. This involves using cryptographic technologies, such as public-key cryptography, zero-knowledge proofs, and sometimes blockchain. This enables the efficient exchange of verifiable digital information where a high degree of trust can be created, even between parties who do not trust each other by nature.

Government and businesses save time and money

Thanks to SSI, sharing data is safer, easier, and more reliable. This is not only good for consumers, but also for businesses and public authorities. Through SSI, companies can more easily comply with the European privacy legislation (GDPR) and the eIDAS2 regulation. And they save a lot of time and money. Documents no longer need to be checked on paper, saving billions of euros in administrative costs in the Netherlands alone. In addition, customer satisfaction increases due to better and faster decision making.

Consumers in control of their own data

SSI technology puts everyone in control of their own personal data. As a consumer, you collect data about yourself and have it digitally signed once. For example, by:

  • public authorities
  • educational institutions
  • employers
  • banks
  • insurers

From then on, you can use this data to enter into all kinds of electronic and non-electronic transactions. Checking papers is no longer necessary when taking out insurance or renting a car. With the help of SSI, complex administrative processes can be designed in such a way that you can arrange all your affairs online and in real time with just one click. Completely privacy-friendly. You manage the data in a wallet app on your phone. And you decide which information to share with which parties.

Convenience and security in digital life

SSI is making digital life convenient. In many cases, it becomes unnecessary to share detailed personal data. Proof that something is ‘true’ is usually sufficient. A car hire company no longer needs to store driving licence details, as they will have irrefutable proof that the hirer has the correct driving licence. Filling in web forms and copying formal documents are all a thing of the past with SSI. In this way, the amount of personal data to be processed or stored is greatly reduced or eliminated, which also increases digital security:

  • No need to leave sensitive information such as a copy of your passport anywhere (e.g., in hotels).
  • Companies no longer have to process or store much or even any of their customers’ personal data.
  • Third parties such as Google and Facebook, as well as the issuer of data in your wallet, are not involved in the transaction. They do not know where you share your data, so they can no longer track you online.

Because every piece of information you share is verifiable, there is a basis for trusting each other. The parties involved in chain processes jointly agree, with regulatory bodies, on the level of trust required in the process. A web shop will have different requirements on the level of trust than a mortgage lender. With SSI, you can avoid giving away too much information about yourself to parties that do not need it or should not even have it.

Working together on SSI technology

At TNO, we’re working on several projects that focus on SSI technology. We’re studying how SSI can be made ready for use. Together with other parties, we're developing use cases into proofs of concept. And in the Techruption programme, we’re working with banks, the Chamber of Commerce, pension providers, and health insurers to make their customer processes more efficient and customer-friendly.

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