Existing technology could be applied to uniquely authenticate people and reduce the risk of dishonesty and fraud.
Speaking Friday at the online launch event of the Chicago-based Global Digital Asset & Cryptocurrency Association, which focuses on regulatory clarity and industry security, US Congressman Bill Foster outlined the importance of a “secure digital identity”.
Foster said during his brief speech:
“You can have the strongest cryptographic guarantees of a blockchain or equivalent system, but they are useless if people participate fraudulently and anonymously”.
He cited commerce as an example, noting that some dishonest users could conduct illegal business using false names.
Foster graduated from Harvard and is a blockchain programmer himself, so he knows the potential of this technology well. Foster is also the co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a government group working on blockchain regulation. Foster said he started his university career several years before the average, at just 15 years of age, and then became a physicist and politician.
Foster mentioned the importance of having an anonymous public identity: the only exception to such anonymity would be if a court required users to disclose their personal information.
He also pointed out that “this will be a fundamental requirement, I believe, of digital contracts or almost all cases of use mentioned”. The transition begins by offering people a reliable way to uniquely and securely identify themselves, adding that the blockchain and the technological ecosystem already contain the necessary elements to implement such a project. Foster added:
“The missing point, the essential role of government, is that once in your life, when you collect your real ID card or passport or similar document, you must be uniquely authenticated as a legally traceable person. Then your identity must be deduplicated using biometric data to ensure that you do not obtain another passport, perhaps in another country, with another identity”.
This type of system, however, requires international collaboration:
“This solution requires a group of countries to join forces to create this ecosystem of identification that everyone can trust: this is the direction we need to go.
Such a project would subsequently lead to other potential cases of use.
Two Foster colleagues in the Blockchain Caucus, US parliamentarians David Schweikert and Darren Soto, recently proposed a new bill to make blockchain-based digital signatures legally binding.
But such a digital identity system also has drawbacks, such as increased government tracking of citizens and further restrictions on privacy, which is often strongly felt in the crypto world.