Face Book Working on Portable Digital Identity
Facebook recently announced that they are in the process of developing their own blockchain cryptocurrency that they are calling Libra. Time will tell if Facebook will be successful with the new coin, but Mike Orcutt at MIT Technology Review saw within FB's Libra whitepaper something that may be truly groundbreaking if successful. FB wants to create a portable digital identity.
Last week, after months of hype and speculation, Facebook finally revealed its plan to launch a blockchain system, called Libra. Since the launch, most of the attention has focused on Libra coin, the cryptocurrency that will run on the new blockchain.
But tucked away in one of the documents Facebook published is something that may turn out to be just as important as the coin—if not more so. A major goal of the Libra Association, the nonprofit Facebook has created to manage the project’s development, is to use Libra to revolutionize the concept of digital identity.
The relevant passage lives near the bottom of a document meant to explain the role of the Libra Association: “An additional goal of the association is to develop and promote an open identity standard. We believe that decentralized and portable digital identity is a prerequisite to financial inclusion and competition.”
But what is a “decentralized and portable digital identity”? In theory, it provides a way to avoid having to trust a single, centralized authority to verify and take care of our identifying credentials. For internet users, it would mean that instead of relying on Facebook or Google’s own log-in tool to provide our credentials to other websites, we could own and control them ourselves. In theory, this could better protect that information from hackers and identity thieves, since it wouldn’t live on company servers.