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Blockchain and Digital Identity – A Good Fit?

Identity and Access Management (IAM) has become central to our online interactions, but like a lot of infrastructure it’s largely invisible to users (at least when it’s well designed and implemented). IAM is evolving rapidly, the stakes are high, and enterprises face an increasingly complex and puzzling digital identity landscape. There is also growing concern that businesses know too much about us, and therefore end users should reclaim control over their own identities. IAM is a hot topic in the technology world, with new architectures, business models, and philosophies all in play. Blockchain technology (sometimes also called distributed ledger technology – DLT) is also gaining attention. Proponents advocate it for a wide variety of use cases, including IAM. Blockchain is a broad class of relatively new data security methods, with certain properties of potential value in IAM. Many IAM companies have launched identity registration solutions “on the blockchain,” while others are developing new blockchain-inspired infrastructure for distributing information about users (called “attributes” and used to inform decisions about whether to grant access to resources), which is a key element of IAM. I co-authored a white paper with Steve Wilson, a researcher, analyst and adviser in digital identity and privacy based in Sydney Australia, titled “Do Blockchains Have Anything to Offer Identity?” Our goal was to provide an in-depth analysis of blockchain and IAM, and to provide a lens through which to view and evaluate forthcoming developments. Faced with a growing amount of hype and scepticism, we seek to provide a balanced perspective, and to clarify the ways in which blockchain technologies may or may not serve the needs of IAM.



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