What Is Self-Sovereign Identity And Why Is It Important?

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Published June 17, 2022

Every natural person has a unique and verifiable identity. Usually, the identity is awarded by a competent sovereign authority, such as the state. The uniqueness and verifiability of an identity is a fundamental element of functioning society as well as foundation of every legal system.

The Internet is different. There, natural persons can have many identities, pseudonyms and fake identities. There is no trust, and little consequence for the individual’s actions.

When a natural person creates an identity on one of the many online services or social media platforms, further issues arise. The identity becomes essentially the property of the platform provider: the individuals don’t have read or write access to the database that store their data. Platforms, on the other hand, can create profitable businesses over their exclusive control over the database and are therefore the main arena where value is created in the current Web 2.0 era.

But what about the anticipated Web3, the decentralized future of Internet? Well, the identity becomes even more of an issue. For a start, people need to take self-custody of their digital identities if they want to get rid of the centralized platforms. But how can you bring trust and consequence to the interactions if you are dealing with just a random wallet address, where anyone can claim to be anyone?

Here comes the Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) approach. It gives individuals control of their digital identities, and also bring trust, as an identity can present credentials that others can verify, to support the trustworthiness of the identity.

In a Self-Sovereign Identity system, the users control the verifiable credentials they hold and their consent is required on which credential is revealed and to who. This reduces the unintended sharing (or theft) of personal data and it is a radical departure of the current centralized identity paradigm where identity is provided by some outside entity.

The Self-Sovereign Identities are typically stored decentrally, and the issuing and verifying of credentials are secured through cryptographic algorithms, eliminating the risk that the identities are hacked or manipulated.

On paper, SSI is simple and straightforward to understand. However, in real life, it is much more complicated. Who among us wants to, or is able to host their own identities and manage all the credentials? What happens if you lose your password? And most of all, why would I really care, as long as I can stay in touch with friends or watch some funny videos?

At UNITT, we are building an environment for decentralized social that is committed to the principles of SSI, but still provide the same, simple user experience as the current platforms and more.

Pekka Mäkelä

Pekka Mäkelä

Chief Executive Officer, founder

entrepreneur, community builder, technology enthusiast