What is EthID?
Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are a fairly recent development in the world of digital identity and blockchain technology. Some key characteristics of DIDs are-
- Persistent: DIDs are generated using cryptographic techniques so as to not require any association with a central authority or an organization for registration
- Immutable: Once a user generates a DID, it cannot be reassigned or repurposed, even after deactivation
- Resolvable: It is possible for everyone in the network to retrieve the metadata for a DID and recognize it
Each instance of an ETH DID basically consists of two major components:
1. The identifier that is actually used to make references. Consider this sample ETH DID “ did:etho: E5c3F5f95b236D92A519D4A8571f7cF77127d8dc ”, which in itself is composed of:
- Scheme identifier: did
- DID method identifier: etho
- A method-specific identifier string:
2. A DID document that defines the properties and attributes of the particular DID. This includes details such as cryptographic keys, well-defined authentication methods, proofs that represent the validity of the DID, services that support the particular DID, and other custom fields and extensions.
The ETH DID (did:etho) method conforms to the DID specifications of the W3C DID Working Group. The major features that it offers are:
- Self-sovereignty: Users can generate, use, and revoke DIDs freely as necessary. This implies total control over one’s identity with no associated authority.
- Privacy: There is no personally identifiable information associated directly with a DID. Such information is linked to a DID via credentials. Moreover, data can be selectively disclosed and shared as deemed fit by the user.
- Security: Any level of security measures can be implemented using cryptographic verification techniques in the DID document.
DID technology will be at the heart of blockchain-based systems. With the increasing demand for data security and privacy, the open protocol holds great potential in every case where there is a need to increase the level of disintermediation and provide enhanced control to users, even in partially centralized ecosystems. Some popular use cases and future prospects:
1. Anonymous Payments
Freelancers online can maintain their anonymity by using their respective DIDs to collect payments safely without ever getting directly in touch with the clients. This also makes the payment process a lot more convenient since it can be automated completely using smart contracts.
2. Permanent Identity Credentials
DIDs do not contain any personally identifiable information, but certain organizations and groups (such as financial institutes, government bodies, etc.), including the user themselves, can issue credentials that contain information regarding an individual. Hence, by demonstrating control and ownership of this credential, the user can prove those credentials belong to them, and then objective conclusions can be made regarding a certain individual by verifying the genuineness of this credential. This can also be done without actually revealing or exposing any specific personal details. This credential then remains valid till it
expires or is revoked by the body that issued it.
3. Selective Sharing of Information
All the parties that are part of the ecosystem can generate identifiers and credentials without sharing any details at all with a third party. It is also possible to add details for customized services. The link between a user and a credential can be established and verified without the user having to share all the data points. This has great implications for selective data sharing and interoperability between systems or platforms.