Source: Maeil Business Newspaper(매일경제)

Are we responding properly to challenges involved by the rapid evolution of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) convergence that results in innovative technologies? Will Korea, often referred as an IT powerhouse, be able to embrace new ICT innovations? One answer to this question can be found in innovations related to “Self-Sovereign Identity” that are increasingly catching the worldwide attention.

While major technologies have been developed in the past over a long process during the industrial revolution, the Internet, which was introduced in the mid-1990s, has become a social infrastructure representing all social phenomena in just over two decades. In addition, the smartphone, which first appeared in 2008, has become an indispensable necessity in the daily lives of all mankind in just a decade.

In the near future, such innovations in ICT technologies will be achieved very rapidly along with the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), and as a result, a hyperconnected society connecting all humans and things will soon be established. Many futurists predict that this digital revolution will lead to the shift of social organization form from centralized “closed” society to decentralized “open” network society while expecting the weakening of central control and the strengthening of participatory democracy.

Among the disruptive innovations, there is the blockchain, which is a type of distributed ledger technology that has been developed over the past decade. The main characteristics of the blockchain are its consensus algorithm-based structure, its model where main operators of the network are rewarded, and the smart contracts that overcome market failure. These technical features have recently contributed to the popularization of the Decentralized IDentity (DID) technology, whose the main purpose is to empower anyone to realize Self-Sovereign Identity.

According to the World Economic Forum’s definition, a digital identity can be divided into innate attributes (age, key, fingerprint, etc.) that are unique to individuals, accumulated attributes that change over time (such as health conditions, shopping trends, etc.) and assigned attributes received from authorized external agencies (passport number, e-mail, etc.). In that regard, the purpose of DID is to enable individuals to take back ownership of these attributes.

Eventually, DID-based ecosystems are designed to create leading platforms that can ensure sustainable inclusive growth. With the maturing blockchain technology that has been developed over the past decade and the experiment of new ecosystems, the time has come for ICT to make a big leap forward by adopting DID.

In order for Korea to lead the global standardization of DID, cooperation is needed among related Korean companies regarding business model standardization and interoperability. In addition, IT companies in Korea should work closely with global standards organizations. Similar to what they have successfully achieved with FIDO (Fast Identity Online), which has been leading biometric authentication standardization, we hope that IT companies in Korea will take the lead in the DID industry by using not only their technical expertise but also their experiences in terms of international standardization.

[Yeong Rin Kim, Chairman of DID Alliance Korea]

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