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EIC 2022: OpenID Foundation and OIX map ‘islands of trust’ for digital ID

EIC 2022: OpenID Foundation and OIX map ‘islands of trust’ for digital ID

Repairing trust in the internet through digital ID via global interoperability was the topic of a speech by Nick Mothershaw, chief strategist at the Open Identity Exchange (OIX), and Gail Hodges, executive director of the OpenID Foundation, given at the European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) 2022.

The identity experts discussed interoperability between global identity networks, and how that can be improved with the aid of modern digital ID solutions.

Mothershaw introduced the concept of the Global Assured Identity Network (GAIN) and how that is needed to regain the “lost” trust that was a foundational part of the original concept of the internet.

“The internet was originally trusted [as it was used by the] military [and] academics and a closed ecosystem. And then it was opened up and trust was lost.

“If we’re going to deal with businesses, and we’re going to deal with governments, we need trust built into the ecosystem.”

The executive then went on to highlight how the lack of trust currently causes substantial harm to both organizations and individuals, and how that damage could multiply in a world where digital identity is the default.

“Imagine what happens if a whole identity, our whole digital wallet, and access to all our cryptocurrencies and our money is all stolen in one go. That would be an absolute disaster.”

To avoid this, Mothershaw believes the “islands of trust” created by certain companies and governments need to be connected via the use of interoperable digital IDs.

“How do we make sure these are all interoperable across the globe?” he asked the public.

“The GAIN initiative is all about that global assured identity network. It was born last summer and the paper was launched at this conference back in September.”

Created by 150 authors, GAIN is a pro bono, open-source initiative to look at how such a conceptual network can be built, enabling global interoperability built on open standards.

“GAIN is also technology agnostic, supportive of SSI, distributed identity, and it needs to work at internet scale,” Mothershaw explained.

Gail Hodges then took the floor at EIC 2022, detailing the current state of the GAIN project, and the role of OpenID Foundation within the initiative.

“We have been incredibly busy in the last six months … trying to actively engage with the community and hear what you think is needed to really make GAIN a reality.”

Specifically, Hodges said OpenID and OIX have actively worked on standards to support GAIN as they are vital to achieving the interoperability behind the project.

“And one of the most critical standards … only a couple of years old, [is] called OpenID Connect for Identity Assurance, and … acts as the connective tissue between the networks.”

Additionally, Hodges mentioned the ISO 18013-5 standard for mobile driving licenses (mDLs) and the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) standard.

The identity expert then went on to describe how GAIN is trying to create a safe space to enable members to test their implementations against each other.

“We all know that this can be a litigious world. And it’s important to have those safe spaces not just to talk, but also to actually test those implementations,” she explained.

“So we formed a community group, which is hosted by the OpenID Foundation, but it is ultimately self directed with a few guardrails.”

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