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DeID & Verifiable Credentials

What's the saying? If you're not paying for the product, you are the product? We've been making this trade for over a decade with the common social media services, and while the implications don't seem treacherous at the moment it may only seem this way because we don't have a complete view of the ecosystems in which we're partaking. Handing over money seems like a reasonable thing to try to avoid, but at what cost to the consumer and what alternatives are in the pipeline?

As a person moving through a digital or digitally-connected landscape, you produce data about your motions. Every single move you make creates a footprint, and those footprints are collected in association with all kinds of identifiers like IP address, email address and phone number. You can try to drop one of these items, but odds are pretty good that you'll use some other consistent identifier accidentally when trying to hide from the data pools. As this landscape becomes more and more ubiquitous, the companies opting to collect and organize this data are benefitting immensely from its utilization and sale. But it doesn't stop there. Ought you be paid for the data you produce? Potentially, yes. Ought you be wary of how much data is collected without your consent to begin with? Also, potentially, yes.

The following is a conversation recorded live with host Humpty Calderon and several web3 builders on the Ontology Spaces.

For the full conversation you can listen to the recording here.

We like to think the world is inherently fair and caring, but there are moments that prove this sometimes isn't the case. Political parties can hold a person's voting record against them and DNA testing companies can provide data to health insurance companies such that a consumer may be treated with a previously unknown bias. Where do we draw the line between a healthy disclosure and an egregious overshare?

There exist decentralized identity companies and foundations pursuing the answers we seek. How our data is collected, where it's stored, and by what method the relevant details are shared when prompted are some processes under examination here. We may very well see a future where the individual controls their data if the data can be collected in connection with a digital identity rather than a person, data storage can be privately accessible by the affected user and zero-knowledge proofs can be implemented.

Here we examine portability, consistency and limitation. Can your hospital records or restaurant habits follow you wherever you want them to? Does each purveyor read this data using the same software? Are you able to share just the relevant metrics in each situation? The Decentralized Identity Foundation is helping to ensure that the answer to these questions becomes a resounding "yes". Hackathons produce tools and general operational standards that members of the DIF can use to collaborate on interoperable tools and quicken the pace of development in this arena.

If I want to buy liquor at a liquor store, the cashier only needs to know that my date of brith falls after a certain date. They don't need every other piece of information on my drivers license. There will someday (maybe soon) exist a framework which makes possible exposing only the limited critical data necessary in each situation. A restaurant could potentially get information about whether or not its clientele enjoys specific styles of music, whether they meet age requirements or even whether or not they have enough money to pay for a meal without knowing any of the intimate or extraneous details that lie in the same data pool.

In this future being built, the individual gets to take ownership of their data and use it exactly as much as they decide. The businesses don't receive more data than they absolutely need to operate properly and efficiently. The digital data collected would still be robust and useful on a grand scale, but the individuals within the system may be able to avoid being personally exploited therein.

We have a lot of hurdles to jump before we see this reality unfold, but lucky for us we're great at jumping hurdles.

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