The combination of Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) and biometrics is the way to meet both the security needs of people, businesses and governments, and the privacy needs of individuals, TECH5 CTO, Chairman and Co-founder Rahul Parthe said during a recent presentation to the European Association for Biometrics.
Parthe, who delivered an EAB lunch talk on ‘Technology behind an inclusive decentralized digital identity,’ was a key system architect for India’s UIDAI, which has enrolled 1.3 billion people, and the lead architect for Indonesian national ID, which has collected 193 million tri-modal biometric enrollments.
TECH5 predicts that more than half of the world’s people will have digital ID within the next few years, but Parthe says the industry must take seriously its responsibility to make sure those IDs are safe and effective. That means interoperable, standards-based, and privacy preserving, which it turns means web3-compliant and decentralized, according to Parthe.
Parthe explained how he conceives of digital ID, inclusive ID, and decentralized ID, and the benefits of each, and outlined the characteristics that digital IDs should have. Offline verifiability, without special devices, and user control are among the necessary qualities, he says.
Tying the web3-compliant and future-proof technology of DIDs to the biometrics all people posses is therefore an important goal for TECH5. Importantly, credential issuance can remain centralized, while verification is decentralized, whether through blockchain or otherwise, like through a Github-style database.
Enabling peer-to-peer interactions removes any single point of failure, and eliminates outage scenarios, according to Parthe. Barriers to coverage and scalability are avoided.
The digital wallet is one of the most important factors in creating a good decentralized ID, because in contrast to a smartcard running an applet, it is W3C-compliant and costs less. The other major factor is governance.
Parthe moved on to TECH5’s vision for inclusive digital ID, and argued that it involves something different than putting an existing credential on a mobile phone. The biometric needs to be part of the credential, he argues, and presentable in digital or physical form.
The role of TECH5’s contactless biometrics in the credential lifecycle, from issuance to verification, is explained. The embedded biometrics also restrict access to the credential, preserving privacy security.
The system, he notes, is dependent on the use of biometrics not just for matching, but as encryption keys. This is a growing trend in the industry, Parthe says, because it allows revocation of credentials, which is challenging with traditional approaches.