What's Trust Got to Do With it?

How Verifiable Credentials are helping us build a safer, smarter future for us all.

Sam Mathews Chase Carsten Stoecker Rebooting the Web of Trust Barcelona
Sam and Carsten working on the first draft of our paper in Barcelona.

Venn's interest in the future of digital identity reaches back to our roots in virtual reality, where who we are online vs. offline can become frighteningly blurred. In recent years, however, we've focused on building systems that function in actual reality, and so our perspective on identity has also shifted. Instead of trying to solve the enormous problem of who we are online and how we might unify or control that identity, we've been working on building systems that, when they collect or exchange information, encrypt the data so it's unreadable by human eyes. These systems use Verifiable Credentials (VCs), which make it possible to verify and trust information without exposing sensitive or personal data.

In March of 2019 Venn's very own Sam Mathews Chase and Joni McKervey attended Rebooting the Web of Trust VIII in Barcelona, an "un-conference" focused on the creation of next generation decentralized identity systems. More akin to a workshop, RWoT attendees spend much of their time together drafting specs and white papers about real or potential technologies designed to create a more self-sovereign and data-secure digital future.

Around the time of the conference, VCs were in the process of being made an official web standard (like HTTP), and Chase's proposal to write a paper about pragmatic real-world applications for the protocol was met with enthusiasm. The paper Chase, McKervey and their co-authors began writing at RWoT VIII lays out four separate use cases for VCs that impact safety and security at scale, demonstrating the benefits and necessity of upgrading critical infrastructure with systems of trust.

The paper, entitled Driving Adoption with Focus on Basic Human Needs: Safety and Security, was published this month by the RWoT editorial team and we're excited to share it here for your reading pleasure!

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