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Academic researchers pitch benefits of community-created digital IDs

Academic researchers pitch benefits of community-created digital IDs

Three academics from Portugal think they have found a way to create interoperable, national digital ID systems that do not depend on government participation but still avoid the incoherence of self-sovereign approaches.

The designers, all from the University of Minho Portugal and INESC TEC, call their concept IDINA, a rough acronym for the kind of datapoints that would be created using distributed, uncoordinated and evolving sources: incomplete, divergent, non-structured and anonymized.

The project was inspired by various global digital ID organizations, including ID2020 and ID4D.

Government ID programs gain authority by being the authority — a top-down, standardized, infrequently changing mandate.

In contrast, IDINA’s authority would be established over time through “statements made by reputable entities and citizens about individuals they interact with.” The reliable entities could include healthcare and non-governmental organizations, and local leaders.

Such a bottom-up process should be more efficient than national agencies which are less familiar with communities and more likely to exclude citizens intentionally or otherwise.

Statements and endorsements would grow in number, creating a rich and trustworthy service with fewer single points of failure, according to IDINA’s designers.

Notably, IDINA would work without requiring would-be digital ID holders to have access to smartphones and the internet.

A reinforcement model would disambiguate data, combine fragmented information from sources, assess data quality and attribute weight to information based on a source’s own trustworthiness.

Data sources and people using the resulting ID would be guaranteed privacy. Sources, according to the designers, should be free to continue acting on their own without system coordination.

No other technological details are described. The designers say that core work would include providing data security, system reliability, outcome accountability and fraud detection.

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