Community Podcast RCast Spotlight

RCast 1: Identity Unchained (with Chris Boscolo of LifeID)

Chris Boscolo is the founder of LifeID, an open-source, tokenized protocol for self-sovereign identity. Digital identity and online security are among the most pressing issues in the world today. Data breaches put everyone on edge. The amount of information we give up by signing up for seemingly benign websites can have profound consequences.

Chris’s vision is bold. He imagines a world in which our identity is safely stored in our phones; if we lose our phones, the information is safe on a blockchain. Multiple passwords will become obsolete as biometrics becomes our means of access. Giving up valuable personal information will no longer be required to surf your favorite sites—you’re in control of what you hand over, always.
As he told me during our talk,

This idea that we have a username and password for every one of these sites that we use is just horribly inconvenient. Furthermore, it’s also somewhat insecure because each one of these sites become a trove for hackers to break into using password cracking software and whatnot. The more serious component to the LifeID story deals with our personal information and companies and organizations using and selling that information without our consent.

LifeID is built on the principles of Christopher Allen, who penned the opus on self-sovereign identity. Boscolo foresees the reclamation of agency in our online relationships. Proving you are you shouldn’t require endless layers of bureaucracy, which is where biometrics comes in. We need security, but it shouldn’t be so frustrating and inconvenient a process that we spend days or even weeks trying to offer such proof.
LifeID has layers for individuals, businesses, and governments, as Boscolo mentions in our talk. He says that while governments usually wait for businesses to take the lead in technology adoption, a few are already beginning to experiment with new digital identity platforms.

In Vancouver, Canada, [the government is] piloting a project where they’re starting with business licenses. The business identity is the first thing that will go in this new identity paradigm, where the government can issue the license in a form of a verified credential to that business.

Chris and I met in person at RCon3 in Berlin. During our conversation, I mention that after a night with no sleep—the flight from Los Angeles is exhausting—I grabbed dinner at a local restaurant. I woke up around 1 am. In a jet-lagged daze, I somehow realized I didn’t have my passport. Three hours on the phone with my wife and surfing the Internet produced a frantic mindset. I mapped the many steps I would have to take at the American consulate to prove my identity to airport officials a week later. Fortunately, in this case, Facebook saved me: the waiter contacted me earlier that evening to report on my dropped passport. When LifeID is fully implemented, that will never be a concern again:

We’ve been concentrating a lot of our effort in making it easy for individuals to recover the use of their identity for things like a passport. So you get a new phone and you walk through the steps to recover the keys that represent you for that passport. And then you can use your new phone too to show the airport officials your passport as you board the plane.

That day can’t come soon enough. Enjoy our first journey through the RChain ecosystem with Chris Boscolo.