Identity for All - Universal Declaration of Digital Identity

From IIW

Identity For All – Universal Declaration of Digital Identity

Wednesday 17C

Convener: Jeff Aresty, Kristina Yasuda, Nicky Hickman, Joyce Searls, Doc Searls


Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered: Identity for All

Universal Declaration of Digital Identity

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Draft Declaration:

Presentation Deck:

George Fletcher:

  • do we have digital identifiers, or do we have digital identities. Importance of identity as a function of context.
  • There are things that are ‘natively me’ but I don’t ‘own’ the attribute, e.g. if there are a group of people who reasonably assert I am a good landscape gardener and they give me a credential, then it still isn’t something I ‘own’.


  • Trust is the key word, and the key point of control / decision-making for assertion of specific identity attributes in specific contexts
  • Very few will manage our identities directly ourselves - we will use agents, might shift from a federated ID provider to an agent provider
  • Portability rights are important underscores the point of control & VC’s make this easier than current form of identity management
  • Doc: Here is Devon's explanation of Self-sovereign identity, in 2016:

Nicky: Referenced other ethnographies with a concept of ‘dividual’ rather than ‘individual identities’. “On this conceptualisation, we do not have a single coherent person performing different roles as demanded by a changing context, but rather a different person differently constituted in each of his or her interactions with others.” Smith, Karl (2012) From dividual and individual selves to porous subjects, The Australian Journal of Anthropology 23, 54 (see her anthropology homework here: Dividual & Individual Identity)


  • Can’t use the same language and as the WB or UN - what IIW mean by identity and what WB & UN to be ‘legal identification’.
    • Eric: Important distinction
  • In SE Asia Malaysian focus on digital rights, not Chinese way or western way but the Malaysian model, could help resistance to corporate and state surveillance

Eric: SE Asian experience, not clear on the differences between simple useful systems and the hyper connected world’s focus on privacy. *Balance between privacy and the value of digital services.

Nicky commented on the balance and tension between privacy and value on the one hand & privacy & security on the other. Cryptography alone will not help when people are involved.

Jeff encouraged everyone to add to, and comment on the document.

Discussion re Article 8 - Doc: Human Centric rather than Machine-centric, Eric - right not to be judged by a machine v important,

Will: Eric: should have right to recourse, but no hurdles as with GDPR’s right to erasure

Jeff & Kristina: Perhaps in some of world justice groups could familiarise and then try and move out from IIW as a bottom up declaration vs state run top-down. See if ID2020 can take to a broader adoption

Joyce: Feels top down, but a great start for the principle.

Eric: Have we considered the right to lie? Concern that SSI & Credentialing makes falsifying identity very difficult. Use case of escape routes for asylum seekers. Doc commented this is the right to pseudonymity.

Joyce gave the example of construction industry making airtight houses that leads to mould, you need some air in the system. Humanity is messy, the individuals need to be able to work it for their own purposes.


  • The difference between the natural world and the real world is vast. We are designed to forget specifics after a few seconds. Difference *between tacit knowledge (natural world) and explicit knowledge (world of machines).
  • Asserting rights is a good way of changing the balance between man and machine.
  • Introduce the fudge of the everyday world, eg am I Doc or David? We have to build respect for the tacit into the digital, explicit world.

Eric: Equals Reclusivity rights

Kristina: Importance of human rights, and the right to choose what you share.


14:53:24 From Nicky Hickman : Instead of his/her for gender diversity suggest using 'their'

14:54:12 From Nicky Hickman : Is there a guardianship clause? or is that Right to Access

14:54:27 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : Article 9?

14:54:32 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : I'm intrigued by Article 8

14:54:40 From Nicky Hickman : ooh have they shared the link?

14:55:11 From Jeffrey Aresty : f someone wants to start looking at the draft

14:55:29 From Nicky Hickman : Apart from article 1, are there any other 'duties' or responsibilities?

14:55:43 From dsearls : Someone taking notes?

14:56:01 From Kristina : no

14:56:06 From Kristina : any volunteers?

14:57:52 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : what are these expected to "kick in" - is there an "age of majority" with respect to digital identity rights?

14:57:59 From Nicky Hickman : I will do it

14:58:15 From Jeffrey Aresty : only in the chat

14:58:23 From Kristina : thank you Nicky

14:58:35 From Jeffrey Aresty : thank you Nicky

14:58:54 From dsearls : Kim Cameron, who wrote the seven laws of identity, calls himself, with his many identifiers, "a committee of the whole." Whitman speaks of "a knit of identity," and how "I contain multitudes."

14:59:13 From Kristina : why would there be 'age of majority' in digital identity rights 14:59:16 From Kristina : ? 14:59:24 From Kristina : because there is article on guardianship?

15:00:19 From dsearls : Devon Loffreto, who coined "self sovereign identity," says the identity that most matters is the first name our parents or tribe give us.

15:00:22 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : a newborn might have difficulty exercising duties, or participating in their political society, expressing self-determination, etc. - although many modern sapiens being digital life pre-natal

15:00:41 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : ^begin

15:02:53 From dsearls : The comedian Tom Bodett said he favored a Native American convention of naming a kid the first thing he or see saw, until their first child came, and the name was about to be "Nissan that won't start," and then "Slick spot on Main Street."

15:03:46 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : i think it was Katryna Dow's plenary at MyData 2019 that gave me that 'pre-natal' thought - there was a slide indicating the average age of digital tracks for pre-borns.... so mostly wondering about the transition of the digital self - no concerns in the 'sweet spot of normalcy' - with guardianship/delegation.... (which there is an article about)

15:04:09 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : but children famously do not have a choice of parents ;)

15:04:50 From dsearls : Michael Ventura says sanity is nothing more than the ability to manage "the myth of the mono-personality" when in fact we are all many people organized behind first person singular pronouns: I, me, him, her.

15:05:34 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : +1 love that! 555

15:07:19 From Wip : @Nicky you got a link to that? Is it a book or paper or something

15:07:36 From Kristina : +1 Nicky

15:08:31 From Nicky Hickman : @ Will - Smith, Karl (2012) From dividual and individual selves to porous subjects, The Australian Journal of Anthropology 23, 50–64.

15:08:44 From Wip : Ta :)

15:09:16 From George Fletcher : Maybe we could add a glossary with definitions to help elucidate the ideas being presented. It is unclear to me exactly what is meant by "digital identity".

15:09:23 From dsearls : Devon Loffreto's original distinction was between self-sovereign and administrative identity. The latter is what Kaliya calls "a database record," assigned by an administrative system to individuals for the system's convenience.

15:09:31 From Wip : +1 George

15:10:04 From Kristina : defining digital identity has usually been self-limiting

15:10:50 From George Fletcher : Kristina - I agree... but using a term with multiple meanings may cause the document to be interpreted in ways not intended

15:11:04 From dsearls : Here is Devon's explanation of Self-sovereign identity, in 2016:

15:11:24 From Nicky Hickman : +1 Kaliya there is a difference between legal identification and a functioning digital identity

15:13:10 From dsearls : I think we could say citizens or residents of a nation have a right to a state-issued identifier, without calling that identifier an "identity."

15:15:09 From George Fletcher : Doc - is the right really for an identifier? or a verifiable credential? or both?

15:16:14 From George Fletcher : I very much like the thought to NOT call it an identity!

15:17:51 From dsearls : George - I think it's a right to what the state calls an identifier and the individual calls — and uses — as a verifiable credential. So, yes, both. And not an "identity."

15:20:08 From George Fletcher : Got it... I guess I think of the identifier as just another claim. e.g. my passport has a "passport number claim" amongst other claims.

15:21:36 From dsearls : We will have succeeded when at some checkpoint the official says "Let me see a credential," rather than "Let me sed your ID."

15:22:40 From George Fletcher : :) Unfortunately my Dad has no clue what a "credential" is. Had to work through that when he got some instructions from his email provider to update his "credential" :)

15:23:10 From windley : What kind of judgment are we talking about here? Seems like it depends on the consequence. Does this mean a CAPTCHA is not allowed?

15:24:10 From Josh Verbarg (State Farm) : The point of CAPTCHA is to prove there is human interaction.

15:24:26 From windley : But it’s a judgement by a machine

15:24:37 From Wip :

15:25:54 From Jsearls : CAPTCHA has 2 purposes. prove it’s a human and train the machine.

15:26:46 From Jsearls : *prove there is a human…

15:27:24 From windley : So, is it allowed under Article 8 or not?

15:28:14 From JFQueralt : Could you share the link again? I arrived late. Thx.

15:28:24 From dsearls : I'm bothered at how lousy the CAPTCHA machine seems to be at learning what's a bus, a crosswalk and a traffic light.

15:28:40 From Jeffrey Aresty : If someone wants to start looking at the draft

15:29:02 From George Fletcher : Doc - lol

15:30:04 From Jsearls : CAPTCHA is exactly an open question for this type of thing.

15:30:13 From dsearls : I'm always surprised to learn how so many people's clueless and tech non-savvy parents or grandparents are younger than I am. :-)

15:30:17 From Nicky Hickman to Kaliya Identity Woman(Privately) : didn't you do a huge review of lots of different 'declarations of rights' ages ago... are we repeat preaching here?

15:33:27 From dsearls : If we don't have a note-taker, somebody should save off the chat. Just click on the file or ••• button.

15:35:14 From Kristina : saving :)

15:35:39 From dsearls : For identity purposes, I think there is a right to use a pseudonym.

15:35:40 From JFQueralt : Pepperidge farm remembers.

15:35:59 From Jeffrey Aresty : I think Nicky may be taking notes

15:36:07 From Nicky Hickman to Kaliya Identity Woman(Privately) : agree @ Doc

15:37:09 From dsearls : We should have a right to be anonymous (literally, nameless), and pseudonymous as well. Digital systems don't like either. The natural world is mostly fine with both.

15:37:28 From Nicky Hickman : agree @ Doc and yes taking notes

15:37:37 From JFQueralt : How about "the ability of lie" is only necessary when there are negative consequences inherent to interacting with others?

If you get rid of those consequences, is it problematic to "remove lying"?

15:37:56 From Josh Verbarg (State Farm) : How would that effect government sponsored spys?

15:38:10 From Kristina : also after a point a lie is not a lie anymore if everyone starts accepting that lie..

15:38:25 From Kristina : spies are already in trouble with all-going digital..

15:38:36 From Kristina : remember researchon this somewhere..

15:41:33 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : i've been playing with the term "reclusivity rights"

15:42:52 From Kristina :

15:43:41 From dsearls : Right, Kristina. It's interesting how many lies are widely taken as truth, even when they're disproven. Most belief systems depend on them. Even science is full of lies that work until they don't. World-is-flat, for example.

15:44:01 From Eric Welton (Korsimoro)  : had an interesting take on ToR, Signal, and espionage

15:45:08 From dsearls : Edward Snowden's book is good on that stuff too.

15:45:52 From Kristina : let us be humans in a digital world

Next steps: Finish the draft and start amplifying

How the document could be used: a declaration to help us "keep being human in this digital era"; a way to explain common goals of IIW community to get wider understanding

A sample project to start implementing this declaration and build a movement around it: