As digital ID and blockchain move closer together—potentially impacting everything from airport security checks to benefits delivery—a new paper from the Kantara Initiative takes a deep look at the privacy and control issues involved in such projects. The paper, “Report from the Blockchain and Smart Contacts Discussion Group to the Kantara Initiative,” reads more like a meditation on the prospects and issues involving blockchain-supported digital ID, rather than a solid policy prescription. But its case studies and other musings offer an in-depth look at an evolving technology.
Another digital ID case study involves “smart medical telematics”—situations in which it is crucial that only authorized members of a patient care team can administer drugs and other forms of that care
The Kantara Initiative, a trade group dedicated to the “real-world innovation and development of specifications and conformity assessment programs for the digital identity and personal data ecosystems,” devotes a section of the 46-page report to identity and access management. Much of that section sets parameters for what constitutes digital ID, but Kantara also offers case studies to better illustrate the issues that will likely involve future blockchain digital ID efforts.
According to Kantara blockchain can make digital ID better
For instance, the Kantara blockchain paper takes a deeper dive into Sovrin-based self-sovereign identity. Sovrin is a “public-permissioned distributed ledger system designed to support the management of identity information, including identity information for people, organizations, and ‘things,’ in a privacy-preserving way.” Sovrin keeps its personal data off the public blockchain—a choice the paper deems sensible—and its governance model stands as a “great demonstration” of the use of “business trust” in such digital ID efforts, Kantara said.
Another digital ID case study involves “smart medical telematics”—situations in which it is crucial that only authorized members of a patient care team can administer drugs and other forms of that care. “The authentication and authorization verification of members of the team becomes a core requirement for this use case,” the paper says. “One possibility is for a smart contract (or stored procedure) to be present on a blockchain and which will mediate the completion of the ‘transaction’ consisting of (a) a team member handling (b) a smart device, with the goal of administering care to (c) a given patient. The smart contract would not only log the event and be ‘in the middle of the transaction,’ it would also produce an outcome that would be legally binding to all entities.”
The Kantara blockchain paper recommends that the Kantara Initiative form a working group that will focus on those “smart contracts” and blockchain technology, and also work with the American Bar Association and other groups as blockchain gains more traction in the digital ID world.