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Ontology at Consensus 2021: Why Digital Identity Systems Must Be Decentralized In Order To Bring About A New Era In Data Privacy | by The Ontology Team | OntologyNetwork | Jun, 2021

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Last week Li Jun, Founder of Ontology, took part in a fireside chat at Consensus 2021.

The Ontology Team

It’s that time of year again; the blockchain industry’s flagship event kicked off in style last week and the Ontology team was out in force. Getting things under way on the first day, our Founder, Li Jun, was honoured to hold a fireside chat on “Why Digital Identity Systems Must Be Decentralized In Order To Bring About A New Era In Data Privacy”. The insightful discussion touched on the blockchain and crypto industry, as well as honing in on Ontology’s core offering, including our DID solutions, OScore, and Wing Finance.

If you didn’t manage to catch Li Jun’s chat, we’ve got you covered! Below is a recap of some of the highlights.

The Future Of Decentralized Identity Will Put Personal Data In The User’s Control

Digital identity is not just a passport or an identity card; it has multiple elements, and it is the cornerstone of our offering. Your digital identity can include anything from your ethnic background or your work experience, to your interests and habits, or your favorite places to shop. Ontology’s decentralized identity offering allows you, the user, to control your personal data without a single centralized service maintaining it. For instance, if you wanted to prove your identity to a third party but the only actual information they needed to verify was your nationality, you could share this one piece of data with the third party while keeping your name, date of birth, home address, and any other relevant data points, private.

Currently, centralized services do not provide this option for individuals. Such identity protocols are flawed because they rely on trust between three parties. For instance, the identity issuers, who are the trusted parties that attest to their validity, the holders, to whom the credentials are issued, and the verifiers, who are responsible for authenticating that the identification is correct. This leaves parties open to human error and duplicitous misuse of data access. While data breaches are gaining in prevalence across the world, this archaic process can only stand to negatively impact the future of digital identity. Luckily, blockchain has provided us with the solution, and we at Ontology are aiming to give the control of data back to the data owners in the form of a cohesive, decentralized identity.

Decentralized Identity And Data Both Need More Adoption To Mature

There is an inextricable link between decentralized identity and decentralized data; decentralized identity is more like a connector or an index, which maps the user to each different source of decentralized data. Decentralized data applies to everything, as each piece of data will eventually link back to an end user or identity. The two protocols are similar and work in tandem, and have been applied to complex decentralized corporations and organizations. The greater the interplay between these two protocols grows, the more likely they will be used in different countries and by governments. With greater adoption comes greater maturation, larger data infrastructures, and finer data ecosystems.

The Blockchain Industry Has Not Focused On Decentralized Data Or Identity Heavily; That Is About To Change

The blockchain industry is still in its early stages, and currently, the focus remains predominantly on digital assets and market movement. Little over four years ago when we were planning the launch of the public Ontology blockchain, we never expected there to be as much interest in this space as there currently is. Individuals’ concept of identity is rapidly changing as distrust of centralized data storage erodes, and this will continue to significantly change in the next few years. Data is perceived as an asset and it can bring real profits for organizations and Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Google. Here, the individual has access to their data yet they do not own it as it is stored on a centralized platform. While individuals can access their data, they can only store said data on these centralized databases themselves; a user cannot move their data off of Facebook to store in another place. Blockchain technology and decentralized data solves for this, as they bring the tools directly to the individual, rather than through a centralized server. In doing this, blockchain will give sovereignty to users. By using Ontology’s solutions, the individual owns the data and can authenticate a third party to access said data, positioning Ontology’s solution at the fore of this revolution.

Ontology Will Invert Users’ Relationships With Their Data, Placing Them In Control

Decentralized identity solutions provide integrity and authenticity in data security. It gives control of personal data back to individuals in the form of a digital identity. As our identity begins to grow and evolve over time, our digital footprint becomes greater and the amount of data points identifying us grows, increasing the risk of manipulation. Inverting the existing relationship users have with data and placing the control in their hands is an imperative for us at Ontology. We strongly believe that these decentralized identity and decentralized data frameworks are the way of the future. By doing this, we also leave open plenty of possibilities: you could be the co-owner of your data with a centralized party, which does not mean you must move your data to that centralized server, you can still put your data into one or multiple centralized storage services. The difference here is that you control the data: you can authenticate the data to another third partner service, be it a financial institution or an insurance company, meaning your data is under your control.

Our identity continues to grow and evolve in complexity, making it more scattered among different centralized systems. With a decentralized identity like ONT ID, users can rest easy knowing that their data will only be stored where they want it to be stored, or shared with whomever they want to share it with; rather than being sold to third parties to advance a companies’ advertising goals. Users allow access to the specific data they want to share and decide whom they wish to share it with. The future of data is decentralized, and we are more committed than ever to be pioneering this effort to bring about a new era of data privacy.

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