Announcing the Sovrin Whitepaper

Summary: The Sovrin whitepaper is now available. Identity in real life is much richer than online identity, flexibly and conveniently solving all kinds of thorny problems. Now with Sovrin, we can bring those rich identity transactions online. This paper shows how that happens and why it will impact every sector of the Internet in significant ways. I hope you'll spend some time reading it.

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I'm very pleased to announce that the Sovrin whitepaper is now available. The whitepaper pulls together in one place detailed information about why Sovrin exists, what Sovrin is, and how it will impact nearly every aspect of your online life. Here's the abstract:

Digital identity is one of the oldest and hardest problems on the Internet. There is still no way to use digital credentials to prove our online identity the same way we do in the offline world. This is finally changing. First, the World Web Consortium is standardizing the format of digitally-signed credentials. Secondly, public blockchains can provide decentralized registration and discovery of the public keys needed to verify digital signatures. These two steps pave the way to establish a global public utility for self-sovereign identity—lifetime portable digital identity that does not depend on any central authority and can never be taken away.

The Sovrin Network has been designed exclusively for this purpose, including governance (the Sovrin Foundation and the Sovrin Trust Framework), scalability (validator and observer nodes and state proofs), and accessibility (minimal cost and maximum availability). Most importantly, Sovrin implements Privacy by Design on a global scale, including pairwise pseudonymous identifiers, peer-to-peer private agents, and selective disclosure of personal data using zero-knowledge proof cryptography.

The emergence of this infrastructure can transform at least four major markets: identity and access management, cybersecurity, RegTech, and data integration. To provide economic incentives for credential issuers, owners, and verifiers, the Sovrin protocol will incorporate a digital token designed expressly for privacy-preserving value exchange. The Sovrin token should enable a global marketplace for digital credentials of all types and value levels together with ancillary markets for digital credential insurance and permissioned first party data (direct from the customer).

As you can see, Sovrin will incorporate a native token for exchanging value in identity transactions. We're confident that a protocol token for Sovrin will enable use cases that would be unrealizable without it and drive the network effects for Sovrin adoption.

The whitepaper has been a long time coming. We wanted to get it right and make it as clear and understandable as possible. I'm grateful for my co-managing editor Drummond Reed, a member of the Sovrin Board of Trustees and chair of the Trust Framework working group for his diligent efforts in making this a reality. Countless others participated in discussions, made comments, or proofread various versions of the document. And a special thanks to Monique Heileson for her fine work on graphic design, layout, and illustration.

Internet identity has become synonymous with authentication and that's too bad. Identity in real life is much richer, flexibly and conveniently solving all kinds of thorny problems. Now with Sovrin, we can bring those rich identity transactions online. This paper shows how that happens and why it will impact every sector of the Internet in significant ways. I hope you'll spend some time reading it.

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