Passbase Manifesto

Universally accessible identity infrastructure for a safer, more human Internet

It is no secret that online trust is badly broken. But we now also have the tools to fix it. At Passbase, we have a vision for building a new identity infrastructure that powers the next generation of digital services serving humans – one that gives control of identity information back to individuals.

Why we need a new identity infrastructure

The future of digital identity is trust with privacy. We believe privacy and data ownership are important now, and will become increasingly important as more sensitive aspects of our lives shift online. This trend has accelerated with this mass adoption of mobile computing, the advent of IoT, and the digitization of the old economy. Flaws in today’s trust and privacy infrastructure are leading to an increasingly counterproductive cycle of distrust and misinformation online. For the new digital economy to succeed, we must find better ways to ensure digital trust and protect privacy.

The digital identity infrastructure must be fixed. Because businesses need to build trust with and between their users, they are compelled to collect and store identity information on individuals in order to verify who they are. Unfortunately, the infrastructure they have at their disposal is fatally flawed, and is at the root of the current plague of data breaches and abuse of personal data that is dangerously eroding personal security and privacy. Digital identity is a serious societal problem. Its solution lies in a better infrastructure.

We now have the technologies to ensure trust with privacy. We believe the technologies required to solve identity online while maintaining user privacy now exist and can be combined into a valuable solution for businesses, consumers, and governments. The time is right to fix digital identity once and for all, and for the good of all.

Today’s large technology companies cannot fix digital identity. Legacy technology companies are not in a position to solve the digital identity challenges in the coming decades. Today’s technology giants are dependent on business models based on collecting and monetizing personal data or mass distributing hardware, which make them poor candidates to solve the pressing problems of digital identity. While respecting their contributions to the evolution of the digital world, the time has now come for a changing of the guard. The identity future will be built by new kinds of companies that will pioneer a redistribution of the ownership of data and its associated value. This is the time for radical positive change in the digital identity landscape.

Control of one’s own digital identity is a basic human right. Identity is an intrinsic trait associated with being human. It is not bestowed on us by governments, corporations or anyone else. Yet in the evolving digital world so much depends on data collected about us that we are in danger of having our identity as human beings reduced to a set of data points. This tendency must be fought against with all our might. The first step in this battle is to be clear that control of one’s own identity data is a fundamental human right.

Towards a more human Internet

It is not possible to access many of the goods, services, information and benefits of the Internet without a digital identity. Yet our digital identity information today is held largely by third parties who often cannot safeguard it or abuse it for their own ends. A more human Internet gives individuals back control of their digital identity data through a universally accessible, easy-to-use infrastructure that builds trust among everyone.

With carefully architected digital identity solutions, people can choose what information is shared with who and have a way to prove that the information we have shared is authentic, while preserving our privacy. This identity infrastructure provides a safer and more convenient way for people to keep all manner of identity information online – from official documents and credentials like drivers’ licenses, passports, educational credentials and employment histories to unofficial but useful information like the clubs we belong to.

Now is the time to fix digital identity

The dream of a better, more human digital identity infrastructure has been around for a long time. The tools necessary to build one have not. This has changed. We are living in a moment in which the necessary technological, organisational, governmental and societal conditions have arisen to make this dream a reality. They include:

  • Advances in hardware. We now have the hardware needed to allow individuals to safely store their identity information. Modern smartphones, for example, offer extremely secure enclaves that can be carried in your pocket. Other advances in hardware allow us to generate better, more trustworthy identity data, for example through high-assurance biometrics.
  • Advances in software. Advances in cryptography and other fields have made possible software and data approaches that allow us for the first time to square the circle between transparency and privacy. Blockchains, for instance, allow people to securely share data and prove data provenance. Zero-knowledge technologies allow us to make verifiable claims about information without revealing that information. There are other advances as well.
  • Development of standards. Universally accepted standards are essential to the success of any infrastructure. Today, many of the concerted efforts to develop standards for decentralised and self-sovereign identities are reaching the stage where they can be meaningfully deployed. This provides an important foundation stone for a human-centric Internet.
  • Changing regulatory environment. Governments around the world have woken up to the defects in the way personal data is collected and handled, and the problems this causes for their citizens but also for their businesses and economies. GDPR in Europe, CIPAA in California, are well-known examples of stricter, highly citizen-oriented data protection regulations. There are many other examples as well. These are strong signals that many governments now support a human-centric Internet.
  • Evolving societal norms. After more than 20 years of having their online identities misused and abused, and being reduced to data points, people are looking for corrective measures. The status quo is no longer tenable for growing numbers of people, and the prevailing societal trend is to seek for more control of personal data. This may be the greatest catalyst of all.

Today, Passbase is an identity verification provider that helps companies solve their digital identity challenges in a compliant, privacy-oriented and user-centric way. We are also an innovative company at the forefront of building the future of digital identity.

We are doing so in a pragmatic, incremental way. As a first step, we are unifying the ways companies can verify identities online, to build one of the essential foundations for a universally accessible identity infrastructure. This is based on our vision for a more human Internet, as well as a detailed roadmap on how to get there. We are also actively engaged as a voice for change and innovation within our industry, and as educators for businesses, consumers, politicians, policy makers and others interested in learning more about the identity future.

Passbase © 2021

KI VERBAND

Passbase is an identity verification solution that makes facial recognition, liveness detection, ID verification and KYC and AML compliance accessible through a suite of flexible developer tools. A zero-knowledge architecture ensures that companies using Passbase can securely verify users from over 190 countries without having to store their data. Built for developers, it can be integrated with just a few lines of code on iOS, Android, and Web.