Going BIG: The Open Identity Exchange Blockchain, Identity & Governance Forum

I’ve resisted jumping on the blockchain bandwagon. No doubt blockchain and DLT continue to be hot topics. But the conversation is now maturing.

Technical collaboration is happening at a rapid pace in places like the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), a consortium formed earlier this year in a bid to promote interoperability and standards for blockchain-based ID systems. Serious contributions are focusing on a key piece of consortium success: governance.

I recently joined OIX members in presenting at MIT’s Workshop on Blockchain, AI and the Law. That event, together with great research on taxonomies, self-sovereignty, etc. by Omidyar, signals that traction on the role of governance in blockchain and DLT-based identity systems is now in play. Most importantly, several new members brought blockchain issues to OIX.

The crash of 2018 is coming. I believe the resilience, transparency and trustworthiness, or the lack thereof, will contribute to the downfall of many bitcoin-based consortia in 2018. While bitcoin is out of scope, DLT may enable verification to be done without needing to contact the issuer of the digital identity.

The potential to elevate and extend country-specific identity schemes to become globally verifiable with minimal effort is relevant to many OIX members. Many are seeing benefits in the ability for people to accumulate identity data about themselves, such as university degrees, professional qualifications, sports club membership, visas, inoculation evidence, etc.


The OIX Blockchain, Identity & Governance (BIG) Forum 

Accordingly, the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) is launching the “Blockchain, Identity & Governance” (BIG) forum in response to member requests and will be a public part of the OIX Member Forum. New OIX members like Evernym and Swirlds, and in collaboration with the Accord Project, will help focus the BIG Forum.

The OIX BIG forum is focused on the governance of identity systems that utilize blockchain/ DLT in the context of trust frameworks. They will look to develop governance models, examine the role of smart contracts and trust frameworks to establish the transparency and trust necessary for consortiums and systems to operate.

OIX is partnering with the Accord Project to develop a white paper focused on smart contracts that will be part of the OIX Trust Framework Series of papers. The OIX BIG forum will be informed by the Accord Project white paper to identify specific types of legal agreements that can be benefit from smart contracts. This type of work starts gathering the legal and contract expertise where the technologists are playing a more navigational than a driver role.

OIX’s focus is on the governance of blockchain/DLT implementations within trusted global identity systems. The points below highlight OIX’s BIG initiative:

  1. OIX membership includes leading experts in identity systems that know why it’s so important not to dump private information (even hashed or encrypted) onto a permanent ledger.
  2. Considered professional analysis concludes that the time is now right to engage the broader community in developing governance models.
  3. The OIX members understand the role of trust frameworks in enabling public/private sector cooperation. The Forum will focus on designing the trust frameworks to sit on top of a decentralized set of identity protocols.
  4. OIX has shown the value of testing of use cases with real people, taking the focus away from the technorati and into the use cases that bedevil our members.


What’s Next?

Members are welcome to join the Forum’s development of governance models through upcoming white papers and workshops. Next steps:

  1. OIX to launch Blockchain, Identity & Governance (BIG) forum in 2018.
  2. OIX and Accord Project to publish the Smart Contracts white paper.
  3. OIX and the CodeX Stanford Center for Legal Informatics at the Stanford Law School are planning workshop focused on Blockchain, Identity and Governance in Palo Alto in Q1 2018.

A Framework for the Future of Aviation and Trust

Aviation is changing drastically and a trust framework between airports, airlines and governments may be the hallmark of that change.

With number of people traveling set to almost double from the expected 4 billion this year to 7.8 by 2036, the airport operations and passenger facilitation that we know today will cease to exist. To meet this demand, airports will have to double their capacity in size and make more efficient use of infrastructure. Passengers will move faster, without friction through the airport to their flight. This seamless scenario starts with more of the travel preparation begun off airport.  Checking in by registering your identity on your mobile device and having your bag collected at home will begin the improved user journey. Once at the airport the passenger will be identified through matching their biometrics at required touch points like airside access, border control and boarding. The touch points at the airport will be passed at a walking pace, a seamless flow marked by an improved user experience with equally improved privacy and security protections.

The aviation industry is working to realize this picture of passenger journey today. There is one precondition they have to address: trusted data sharing between the many stakeholders. Stakeholders with competing plans, priorities and processes will have to cooperate to meet the demands of this changing world of aviation. The global aviation ecosystem requires these “teams of rivals” to collaborate to enable the passenger to pass airport touch points in a fast and secure way. Stakeholders will need to agree on the “tools and rules,” the business, technical and legal standards for the sharing of data. Aviation leaders have begun to organize themselves in agile governance structures to manage shared business, legal and technical standards. Those agreed standards will be memorialized in trust frameworks.

IATA’s OneID Task force has begun working with airlines, airports, governments and vendors to agree on the next generation of business, legal and technical standards. Airports, big and small, are updating operations in full cooperation with all stakeholders.  Industry leaders understand that the interdependence of airports to meet the increased privacy and security requirements will drive the necessary interoperability between airports. They’ve engaged with the Open Identity Exchange to learn how other industries are developing similar global trust frameworks. The seamless flow of passengers in airports and between airports is enabled by an analogous flow of data among stakeholders. The OneID Task Force is leading these teams of rivals and is taking up the challenge of developing a new set of “tools and rules,” the standards that will enable airports to offer a more secure, privacy protecting and seamless passenger journey in the future.



Annet Steenbergen
Annet Steenbergen is co founder of the first seamless passenger facilitation, the Aruba Happy Flow, advises the Government of Aruba and is consultant seamless flow. She also chairs IATA’s Passenger Facilitation Working group.

Don Thibeau
Chairman – Open Identity Exchange
Executive Director – OpenID Foundation

Vote Early and Often!

More often than not OpenID Foundation members vote with their feet. Members typically signal their interest in a topic or work group by participating on a spectrum from “leader to lurker” on a mailing list discussion or in a work group’s agenda setting. On important, rare occasions, real people have to cast real votes. Votes decide things in presidential elections or in standards development organizations like the OpenID Foundation.

Two elections just concluded in the OpenID Foundation. The Vote to Approve Implementer’s Drafts of OpenID HEART Specifications just passed after a successful “get out the vote” campaign by Work Group Chairs Deb Bucci and Eve Maler with help from Board Secretary Mike Jones. In the “sausage making” of standards development votes like these really matter.

The vote for the corporate board representative also just concluded with Dale Olds’ election. I asked Dale to share a few remarks about what we might expect from his leadership. He shared the following;

“I’m honored to be elected to the board of the OpenID Foundation. In the past few years VMware has become much more active in federated identity services, both with their own products and integrations with other vendors’ products. While I expect to primarily contribute to technical issues, I plan to use my position on the board to push for increased participation by VMware and AirWatch in working groups and events. With that said, I also recognize that my position is to represent the perspective of all the corporate members, not just VMware. I encourage other corporate members to contact me if they would like to voice a concern or if they desire an issue brought to the board’s attention. Looking forward to a productive term!”

Thanks to all who took the time to vote. The contribution of your time, talents and votes are the lifeblood of volunteer-driven organizations like the OpenID Foundation and as a result; solutions are improved, standards are strengthened and customers and end-users are better served.



International Identity Law & Policy Workshop


The Open Identity Exchange, along with the American Bar Association’s Identity Management Legal Taskforce and the World Bank, hosted a workshop on January 14, 2015 in Washington D.C. with the objective of discussing the main concerns surrounding the adoption of identity management law and policy, helping to develop a common language around internet identity.

Venn DiagramAttendees included industry leaders in identity and relevant regulatory bodies. The key theme reiterated throughout the event was the importance of focusing on outcome-based legislation. Participants voiced concern that legislation prescribing a specific technical process to implement identity standards would hinder innovation and ultimately prevent the success of a new legal regime.

The group was briefed on three main efforts to develop identity management-specific policy:

  1. United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (United Nations);
  2. Uniform Law Commission (United States);
  3. Identity Management Standards Advisory Council (Virginia).

Experts involved in each effort shared their opinions on how attendees could utilize their expertise to aid these efforts. These projects are moving forward at a domestic and international level to set the groundwork for a broader discussion around the impact of standards-based versus risk-based approaches to achieve the outcomes-based model regarded so positively in the discussions. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) is an important proof point in this regard for international banking.

In addition to leaders in US identity related legislation, architects of the EU eIDAS regulation were present at the event and shared their expertise on the development and function of identity-management specific law. The eIDAS team was able to show how the law they developed spurs the rapid development of solutions to problems to cooperation. They emphasized how the outcome focused nature of the eIDAS regulation allows it to continually adapt to changing technology. In examining the use case of eIDAS, attendees were able to generate new ideas of how a similar system could be adapted to the United States.

Discussions were moderated throughout the day on the following topics relating to identity management-specific law:

  1. Trust, Interoperability, and Enforceability;
  2. Liability;
  3. Privacy and Security;
  4. Business and Technical Standards;
  5. Participant Obligations;
  6. Legislative Goals.

These wide ranging issues gave attendees an update on the major critiques that potential legislation will face as it attempts to address the challenges of internet identity.

Ultimately, the group agreed on the need to develop a common set of issues that must be addressed in any identity management-specific law. Although there was disagreement over the standards surrounding privacy and security, attendees recognized the need to focus on developing law that allows industry to continue to innovate while protecting the interests of consumers throughout the identity management processes.

OIX encourages approaches that identity management law can be developed to serve in the cross-section of international law, identity management, and corporate policy. Follow up events planned in both London and Amsterdam on March 24 will give attendees and members of OIX the ability to continue this important conversation while learning from experts from across the identity ecosystem and develop a common language of internet identity.

Leaders Lead

The inaugural meeting of the iGov Working Group took place on Wednesday, January 14th where three co-chairs were elected by acclamation. John Bradley of Ping Identity, Paul Grassi of the US NIST and Adam Cooper of the UK Cabinet Office Identity Assurance Program are the elected co-chairs. Acclamation may be a bit strong describing an electoral process closer to being shanghaied. All the same, all of us know leadership is a classic  key success factor.

However leaders emerge, they are essential to success especially in the “sausage making” of standards development. The configuration of iGOV’s leadership is intentional. The leaders map onto the WG’s mission: John’s Chilean/Canadian identity together with his unique technical chops; together with Paul Grassi’s past pedigree and present position in the US Government; together with Adam Cooper’s architectural expertise than stretches into European standards and schemes form iGOV’s leadership team. 

Leaders lead and we look to these men to manage the process and lead work group contributors to a common goal. Please consider joining this effort. The work group’s goal is to have a common deployment profile that can be customized for the needs of both pubic and private sector deployments in multiple jurisdictions that may require the higher levels of security and privacy protections that OpenID Connect currently supports. The resulting profile’s goal is to enable users to authenticate and share consented attribute information with public sector services across the globe. 

The full draft charter is available at http://openid.net/igov-wg-draft-charter/

The Venn of Internet Identity Regulation

WB VennOne of the take-aways from the Open Identity Exchange Economics of Identity Conference last week in London was potential impact of regulatory and legislative changes driven by the European Union’s eIDaSS program and the common digital market. Andrea Servida, Head of the EU’s Task Force on Identity, outlined the changes that will redefine digital markets and identity services in 2016 and beyond.

As a result, Open Identity Exchange is extending its core focus a bit to address international identity management legal and policy issues. Together with our co-sponsors we hope to obtain the views and recommendations of Open Identity Exchange members on the direction of soon-to-be-developed identity legislation. The meeting is co-sponsored by the Open Identity Exchange, the ABA Identity Management Legal Task Force, and The World Bank.   

The meeting will review several recent legal and policy developments that have important implications for identity transactions. In addition to identity management legislation recently enacted by the State of Virginia and the European Union, two key identity management legislative initiatives are in the works. First, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has agreed to undertake a project to develop international legal rules for identity management. Second, in the U.S., the Uniform Law Commission is considering a proposal to establish a committee to draft uniform identity management legislation for enactment by the 50 U.S. states. 

The legal and policy choices made by these and other legislative processes will have a significant impact on everyone who issues or consumes online identity credentials. Thus, the meeting co-sponsors will be seeking your input and guidance regarding the appropriate direction of identity management law and policy, so as to inform the processes in both the U.S. and internationally. As with all Open Identity Exchange initiatives we’ll share the outcomes and hopefully help advance the conversations in the US, UK and Europe via OIX workshops, white papers and websites.