As in the physical world, identity is central to our digital lives. People use personally identifying information (PII) from things like state-issued identification cards, official records of birth, employment verification forms, and other pieces of trusted identification to connect and interact with governments, businesses, and communities. This can only be done through creating an online account with a company or organization, submitting PII, and protecting it with a password.  As history has shown, this process is unsafe, takes too long, and does nothing to actually prove that the person filling out the information is actually the person they claim to be. 

Digital identity is a necessity in a world where so much happens online. But how do we replicate  the ease of use and the authentication  provided by paper documents and plastic cards to the world of digital identity where everything can be copied? How do we ensure that digital identity can be accountable and trusted, portable and permanent, resistant to fraud, yet flexible for managing a lifetime of online interactions?

As the  Accountable Digital Identity Association (ADIA) looked at this challenge, we concluded that the starting point has to be ease of use. Ease of use is the precondition for inclusion, the way to make Digital Identity available for everyone. From this insight, we created the “Digital Address” as the foundation of  the ADIA Specification, the gateway to the ADIA ecosystem for digital identity. 

What is a Digital Address?

In the ADIA ecosystem, each person uses a unique Digital Address , composed of short, easy-to-remember words or phrases, to easily access and share a verifiable digital credential so that they can  prove who they are online.   Digital Address is the relationship between the user and the ADIA interchange, that is unique from where the user will be able to have all the distributed identities, and personal information connected with the sources and be easily managed.  

The Digital Address means that a person doesn’t have to own a smartphone or even computer to access their information in the ADIA ecosystem and can use all the services supported by that ecosystem. It opens the way for billions of people to participate in a global digital economy. The ADI Association’s use of a Digital Address will scale the system across under-served populations and help drive financial inclusion for those who don’t have formal identity.

Digital addresses help solve the issue of businesses and companies having to collect information from their customers and citizens to provide them goods and services. The Digital Address gives a person full control of what identifying information they share with service providers of their choice, making it easy to prove who they say they are, digitally. People can receive Digital Addresses from the first trusted issuer they encounter in the ADIA ecosystem, making it easier to engage with other participants in the ecosystem. 

So, while the ADIA Specification provides the underlying technology for businesses to connect with the accountable identity for an individual, it also extends tenets such as privacy, ease-of-use and transparency to facilitate an individual to have a better experience with a wider variety of businesses.

How do Digital Addresses it work

Imagine going to apply for a job. You can prove your employment history based on information you’ve already shared with a bank or former university to prove you have the appropriate experience or education. All you need to do is write down your human-readable, easy to remember Digital Address and the potential employer can check the information you provided, in a matter of minutes. 

Once you’ve gotten the job, you can arrange for health insurance, direct deposit to your bank and set up all of your other employee benefits using your unique Digital Address. With the underlying technology from an ADIA interchange, and with the ADIA ecosystem of trusted companies (banks, government services, telcos, etc) that offer services using the ADIA Specification, that reality is near.

Along with the convenience to set up the ADIA Specification by a business using their existing identity infrastructure, Digital Addresses are one of the best parts of the system. They make it impossible for any organization within this system to see a person’s personal information, unless they have specifically approved the business to do so.

Fixing Digital Identity

The ADIA Specification uses Digital Addresses to solve the problem of trust and accountability in the digital world. With the ADIA membership and trusted parties working together, the ecosystem approach of Accountable Digital Identity outlined in the ADIA Specification will not just remove friction and make it easier to get things done online but transform the way businesses value our digital information. 

We are solving the underlying problems of digital identity, making the broken digital identity systems of today– a thing of the past. Our real world and digital lives can truly integrate as one – with privacy, security and convenience at its core.

Visit us for more information on the ADIA Specification or joining the ADI Association Membership.


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