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.


Don Thibeau