By Adrian Doerk
Decentralized Identity is a rapidly evolving field. Its potential to transform the way digital identities are managed and protected has not gone unnoticed. The Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) has been at the vanguard of this movement, working tirelessly to develop the technologies and standards necessary for its realisation. In Europe, the eIDAS regulation has set the stage for the creation of a European Digital Identity Wallet, a secure means for citizens to access online services throughout the EU. DIF and its members have been busy supporting this initiative through a range of activities, such as participating in large-scale pilots and developing concepts and prototypes for hardware binding and wallet attestation. In this blog post, we will explore the role of DIF in advancing the European Digital Identity Wallet and examine the various activities undertaken by its members in support of this crucial project.
Introduction to the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF)
DIF is a collaborative effort that brings together organisations, developers, and researchers from around the world. It seeks to promote the development and adoption of Decentralized Identity technologies, which have the potential to revolutionise the way we manage our digital selves. By working together, the members of DIF aim to create a future in which individuals have greater control over their personal data and are able to interact with others in a more secure and privacy-preserving manner.
In order to achieve this vision, DIF promotes the development of open standards and protocols. It also provides tools and resources that enable developers to build Decentralized Identity solutions. Since its inception, DIF has attracted a large and diverse membership, which includes both established industry players and innovative startups. This collaborative ecosystem is crucial to driving the adoption of Decentralized Identity technologies and ensuring their long-term success.
Understanding eIDAS, the European Digital Identity Wallet and the Large Scale Pilots
eIDAS, which stands for Electronic Identification, Authentication, and Trust Services, is an EU regulation that was first introduced in 2014. Its purpose is to establish a single framework for the secure and seamless provision of digital services across the European Union. One of the key components of eIDAS is the European Digital Identity Wallet, a software application enabling citizens and organisations the management of verifiable identity information and seamless access to online services.
The legislative process of the revised eIDAS regulation is accompanied by four large-scale pilots, which are being carried out across the EU and aim to provide policy makers with the necessary real world experience and feedback. These pilots serve as testbeds for the development and evaluation of the wallet's features, as well as its integration with online services. The results of these pilots will help inform the development of the wallet and ensure that it meets the needs of European citizens and businesses.
The Role of DIF and Its Members' Activities in Supporting the success of the European Digital Identity Wallet
DIF members have been actively involved in the design and development of identity solutions and digital identity wallets for years already. Many of them are now participating in the large-scale pilots, where they help to test and refine the wallet's features and functionality.
DIF members have been addressing key challenges in developing a secure European Digital Identity Wallet, including hardware binding and wallet attestation. They have been working on concepts and prototypes to securely bind the wallet to the user's device using techniques like secure hardware modules and cryptographic methods. Wallet attestation involves using cryptographic proofs to verify the authenticity and integrity of the wallet's contents, ensuring trustworthiness for service providers and relying parties. The secure wallet working group spearheaded by German Bundesdruckerei and wallet provider Lissi demonstrated a working prototype within the scope of IDunion. This work could lay the foundation for the European Digital Identity Wallet and its users.
The Crucial Role of Relationships When Building Trust: A Case for DIDComm
Trust is a fundamental aspect of any identity system, and Decentralized Identity is no exception. In the context of the European Digital Identity Wallet, the ability to establish and maintain persistent relationships between individuals and organisations is essential for ensuring its success. DIDComm, a protocol developed by DIF, offers a potential solution to this challenge and could be an interesting addition to European Digital Identity Wallets.
DIDComm enables secure and privacy-preserving communication between parties that have been identified using decentralized identifiers (DIDs). This allows individuals and organisations to establish trusted relationships with persistent communication channels, which are persistent and enable organisations to push information to end-users instead of requiring a pull. DIDComm's use of end-to-end encryption and other security features ensures that these relationships remain secure and private, which is vital for preserving user trust and fostering a healthy digital identity ecosystem.
In addition to its potential role in the European Digital Identity Wallet, DIDComm has broad applicability across a range of industries and use cases. Its ability to facilitate secure and privacy-preserving communication makes it an ideal foundation for the development of a wide variety of Decentralized Identity solutions for citizens and organisations alike.
The European Digital Identity Wallet represents an ambitious and transformative initiative that aims to provide a secure and seamless digital identity solution for citizens across the EU. The Decentralized Identity Foundation and its members have played an important role in supporting the development of digital identity wallets in general, contributing their expertise and resources to the advancement of this crucial global development. From participating in large-scale pilots to developing cutting-edge concepts and prototypes for hardware binding and wallet attestation, DIF members have demonstrated their commitment to the success of the European Digital Identity Wallet and the broader Decentralized Identity ecosystem. As we continue to explore the potential of Decentralized Identity technologies, the collaborations and innovations fostered by organisations like DIF will be essential for shaping a more secure and privacy-preserving future for digital identity management.
About the Author:
Adrian Doerk focuses on providing user-centric digital identity services with digital wallets, which ensure privacy and empowerment of the individual. He co-leads the IDunion research consortium and the software provider Lissi. He’s an active voice of the SSI community as SSI Ambassador. Note: this article was written with input from ChatGPT