Sovrin Foundation publishes guide to achieving true self-sovereign identity on a distributed ledger

Decentralized identifiers, independent governance and public key cryptography are indispensable components of the solution to the Internet’s most enduring challenge


Salt Lake City, UT, Jan. 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. The now-famous 1993 New Yorker cartoon sporting that caption sets up the deeply vexing problem confronting online interactions outlined in a newly published document explaining how to  achieve true self-sovereign identity (SSI) online using distributed ledger -- also known as blockchain -- technology.

The document, released by the international non-profit Sovrin Foundation, is built off the premise that the Internet was originally designed to identify individual machines on a network, not individual people, leaving the web without a mechanism for effectively using digital credentials to identify persons with the same ease, security and confidence which we do in the offline world. Furthermore, the document finds that self-sovereign online identity -- which demands complete decentralization, portability, privacy and security -- is finally a possibility thanks to the recent invention of cryptographically secure, distributed ledger technology.

Presented in the format of a technology whitepaper, the document, entitled Sovrin: A Protocol and Token for Self-Sovereign Identity and Decentralized Trust, offers an outline for applying the unique strengths of the Sovrin distributed ledger and the virtues of the Sovrin Network -- as outlined in the constitutional Sovrin Trust Framework -- to achieve the self-sovereign identity layer missing from the Internet since its inception.  

"Internet identity has become synonymous with authentication and that's too bad." said Dr. Phillip J. Windley, Sovrin Foundation Chair. "Identity in real life is much richer, more flexible, and conveniently solves all kinds of thorny problems. Now with Sovrin, we can bring those rich identity transactions and high levels of trust online. This paper shows how that happens and why it will impact every sector of the Internet in significant ways."

A central tenet of the document is the assertion that at its core, digital identity management is really about the exchange of verifiable claims. These are those provable attestations that individuals, organizations and connected devices need to make about themselves in the course of navigating and securely interacting in the modern world.  

The whitepaper’s authors, which include some of the world’s leading experts in the field of digital identity with a combined 50 years experience in digital identity, point to research proving that the economic impact of adoption of the Sovrin technology could be on the order of trillions of dollars annually, as the costs of cybercrime and identity theft attributable to the Internet’s weak identity infrastructure are slashed or eliminated.

According to the paper, the most direct impact of the Sovrin technology will be in the Identity and Access Management (IAM) space, as the existing system of usernames and passwords is replaced by cryptographic authentication the identity owner controls and carries with her permanently.

Self-sovereign identity will also substantially impact the cybersecurity, RegTech and data integration industries, the paper finds, to the tune of nearly $200 billion annually.

Among the more forward thinking positions taken in the whitepaper is the assertion that even a distributed ledger-based digital identity solution cannot attain full sustainability without GDPR-compliant privacy preservation and incentives that are well aligned among identity issuers, owners and verifiers. Vital to achieving all of these ends is the introduction of the Sovrin digital token.

As the whitepaper explains, the Sovrin digital token addresses the privacy and incentives alignment problems by providing a built-in incentive for the privacy-preserving value exchange of digital credentials. The whitepaper examines in some detail how this is made possible.

While the whitepaper does address the subject of a Sovrin digital token, no announcement has been made about how or when the token will be distributed. Those interested in learning more about the token should rely exclusively on information published through official Sovrin Foundation channels, which can be identified only at


About the Sovrin Foundation

The international, non-profit Sovrin Foundation is governed by a constitutional Trust Framework that ensures its independence from government or industry influence and codifies its dedication to providing self-sovereign digital identity for all. The Sovrin network is operated by independent stewards and uses the power of a hybrid distributed ledger as a fast, private and secure framework for providing every person, organization, and connected device a permanent identity with which to transact online and operate securely in everyday life. Learn more about the Trust Framework underlying the Sovrin network here.


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


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