Problem: Proving Digital Identities
means of verifying identity can be prone to lots of weaknesses. Government
documents that attest to identity can be forged. So can signatures, whose
authenticities are hard to confirm.
the online world, people can claim to be whoever they want, as digital identity
thieves, catfishers and radical propagandists well know. Short of asking users
to upload copies of physical identity documents (which, again, could be forged)
or cross-checking identity claims with email accounts, phone numbers or other
personal records (which are also easy enough to forge or manipulate), online
platforms lack a means of confirming that their users are who they claim to be.
the world has lacked a way of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that someone’s
claimed identification is authentic, especially in online settings where
biometric means of identity confirmation, like scanning fingerprints, are not
usually practical to implement.
a large company that specializes in digital security software, thinks it can
solve the conundrum of online identity management by using an enterprise
blockchain — specifically, R3’s Corda — to help power an identity
blockchain-based identity management solution, which the company announced earlier this month, is called
Trust ID Network. It allows individuals to create a personal “self-sovereign
digital ID” (in Gemalto’s parlance) and manage it through a mobile app called
ID Wallet. The app uses Corda to share identity information with organizations,
such as banks or government agencies, that might want to confirm a user’s
emphasizes that it does not store personal information itself on the
blockchain. Instead, it uses the blockchain as a decentralized infrastructure
for identity management and confirmation.
addition to providing a theoretically more effective means of confirming
digital identity than has traditionally been possible, Trust ID Network stands
to make users’ lives more convenient because it offers a single solution that
can be used to prove identity to multiple organizations. Users establish their
identity only once and can then use the system with as many organizations as
they want, provided those organizations support it.
Centralized, Decentralized Digital Identity Solution
and decentralization fanatics might point out that although Gemalto’s digital
identity solution uses a decentralized blockchain to manage identities, the
system is pretty centralized in other important respects. To use it, you have
to leverage Gemalto’s app, and you have to trust Gemalto to verify identities
company that has spent a long time developing solutions for verifying
identities, Gemalto is no doubt pretty good at making sure that people are who
they say they are when they register for one of its services. In fact, Gemalto probably
does a much better job of identity verification than your typical website or
social media platform.
Gemalto can’t totally solve the problem of identity fraud. Someone who is
really skilled at forging documents or stealing identities could probably still
slip by Gemalto’s defenses.
said, it’s important to think in realistic terms. Gemalto’s Trust ID Network
might not be able to provide completely airtight identity confirmations. But
neither can anyone else. And Gemalto’s solution at least has the advantage of
making identity verifications available via a decentralized network, which will
simplify access to digital identity information — not to mention make it
difficult for online services to impersonate Gemalto when presenting identity
information, which is important for ensuring that organizations can trust
Gemalto’s system itself.
Gemalto’s Trust ID Network stands out as one of the first real-world platforms
that uses a blockchain to assist in identity management. There has been much written about the potential for blockchain
technology in this realm, but little real development to date. (Alongside
Gemalto’s new solution, Sovrin, which is backed by IBM and
other companies, is another notable real-world example of blockchain-based
But if you want to see Trust ID Network in action, you’ll have to wait,
at least a bit. Gemalto said it will launch pilots with select companies later