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Launch event for NFID goes deep on self-sovereign identity

Categories Access Control  |  Biometrics News  |  Trade Notes
Launch event for NFID goes deep on self-sovereign identity

The NFID Foundation formally launched with a virtual event focused on decentralized ID and self-sovereign identity (SSI), and the role the not-for-profit advocacy group hopes to play in its promotion and growth in the security industry.

The organization’s founding membership of biometrics, digital ID and SSI-facing firms includes ZKTeco, PDQ, Tech5, LEGIC, IDmachines and PassiveBolt. “We are here to provide governance for the NFID tech stack for the security industry, and allow a way for everyone to kind of build on top of this utility in a safe, secure, private way,” says Zachary Klares of PDQ, a smart lock manufacturer and founding member of the NFID Foundation, in outlining the organization’s goals.

The launch event sees Klares and Kabir Maiga, co-founder of Web3 Access Control firm PassiveBolt, discussing the reasons for the creation of the NFID Foundation, the benefits of SSI and decentralized identity, and the technical toolkit needed to implement it. It begins with a primer on SSI, covering everything from the necessity of credentials to establish trust, to the challenges presented by an increasingly complex identity network, to the concept of creating, owning and controlling a digital identifier.

SSI means “I have ownership and control of my identity,” says Maiga, discussing the principles that undergird SSI technology. “I give consent over who has access to my information. It means interoperability is a given, because I’m able to take this identity that I own, and utilize across my various interactions over network communications.” Maiga says this system creates transparency in instant onboarding, because the precise nature of PII being shared is in control of the person holding the identity.

“Very efficient, seamless for me – I don’t have to repeat myself across various systems,” says Maiga. “But more importantly, I can see what they have access to, and they have to tell me clear policies about what they are doing with my information. And I can rescind that.”

In breaking down the technical components of SSI, Maiga covers two key concepts that underpin the idea of decentralized identity. The first, Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), are units of identity that combine a unique personal identifier with “all the different public cryptography is bound to it.” In other words, public key infrastructure (PKI) that uses private and public keys for verification to add an identity layer. The second key concept is verifiable credentials (VCs) or what Maiga calls “attestations”, to combine metadata with cryptographic tools to answer the question, “says who?” In other words, “crypto signed claims about an identity holder whereby the claims can be verified and trusted by a third party without needing to contact the issuer.”

The resultant trust triangle between issuer, holder and verifier illustrates how biometrics can be implemented to create trusted identity “in a privacy preserving manner.” It also shows the need for a verifiable data registry such as the NFID blockchain to host the public cryptography element for the verifier to access.

Maiga looks at regulatory pressures facing SSI and digital wallet programs globally, institutional support ramping up behind it, and the growing number of governments that have adopted SSI, including Switzerland, the Philippines and U.S. Customs and Border Control. He touches on revamped privacy laws in many U.S. states. He lists some of the cost, security and efficiency benefits that SSI provides.

Having launched, the group is now seeking additional members. Membership in the NFID Foundation is available at various levels, with related fees. You can watch a replay of the launch event here.

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