1 Why the Internet is missing an identity layer—and why SSI can finally provide one
Self-sovereign identity—commonly abbreviated SSI—is a new model for digital identity on the Internet, i.e., how we prove who we are to the websites, services, and apps with which we need to establish trusted relationships in order to access or protect private information. Driven by new technologies and standards in cryptography, distributed networks, cloud computing, and smartphones, SSI is a paradigm shift for digital identity similar to other technology paradigm shifts, for example the shift from keyboard-driven user interfaces (e.g., MS-DOS) to graphical user interfaces (e.g., Windows, Mac, iOS), or the shift from dumb phones to smartphones.
However the SSI paradigm shift is also deeper than just a technology shift—it is a shift in the underlying infrastructure and power dynamics of the Internet itself. In this way it is closer to other infrastructure paradigm shifts such as those in transportation:
- The shift from horse travel to train travel.
- The shift from train travel to automobile travel.
- The shift from automobile travel to airplanes and jet travel.