Short video: The impact of having no identity


This video is worth watching. It simply articulates the horrible problem when you have no paper identity documentation. In this case the video looks at the problem from the viewpoint of children born under ISIL control who are stateless and identity-less.


I like this because cracking civil identity (highly assured identities that can be used for high value transactions eg pay your taxes, open a bank account) that is self-sovereign is the toughest nut to crack. This video is great for highlighting the importance of Civil Identity and making physical and human what we are trying to achieve through Sovrin in the logical world. Couple of thoughts:

  • Interesting that when it comes to our consumer and online identities we’re trying to move away from needing a central authority to give us one so it’s easy to forget how important having a high-assured Civil Identity is. Yet when we say ‘identity’ that’s what most people think of, ie: the kind of identity in your passport.
  • What would a self-sovereign identity look like in the real world for Civil identity? How could Mohammed & Noor build their civil identity in a Sovrin world? When they were first noticed on the scan, or with that little blue line or just when the local midwife (maybe a special kind of Trust Anchor) confirmed to mum that she was pregnant, maybe that generates a DID that’s linked to mum? Then each of the 3rd party claims from those they had interacted with in their short lives would count. Scans if they had them, claims made by mum could be confirmed by dad or medical professionals, or friends and relatives that felt those first kicks. Those present at the birth could confirm that Noor’s DID reached the real world from mum? Official documents like the birth registry, the parents’ marriage certificate could all contribute. When they crossed the border, the border officials could add photos of them coming together, where they had come from and where they were travelling to… So throughout their lives they could just 'level up the quality of their identity for the purposes of civil transactions. I think in a self-sovereign world, lots of smaller verifications from the crowd are at least as valuable as those big ones from large organisations. Trulioo ( have made some progress in translating social media interactions and accounts into identity assurance products, some of the same approaches could usefully be employed here.


Looks as if the UN are on the case


+1. In fact, profoundly so. That’s how webs of trust work in the real world. Sovrin infrastructure will enable us to bring those kinds of trust webs to our everyday Internet experience. (Which is why Sovrin Web of Trust is a defined term in the Sovrin Provisional Trust Framework.)


Might be an idea to create an illustrated layman’s guide to the principles in the TF using stories to explain what each principle could mean in the real world for real people? “Sovrin Stories”?? If we use UCD techniques we can create stories around the persona. We would need 3 I think, one person like Noor with “no identity”, one person from a civil law country and one from a common law country. These would bring the TF to life, and also start building a toolkit for app developers.


I love that idea. @fulling, this is something that should go into the budget you are building for the Sovrin Foundation. If we could bootstrap enough budget to make a few of these videos, it would really help with future fundraising.