Technologists building blockchain-based self-sovereign identity (SSI) tools are collaborating on an “immunity passport” to help stop the spread of COVID-19 without compromising the privacy of users. Proving some level of immunity would help individuals return to everyday life.
The COVID-19 Credentials Initiative (CCI) is working on a digital certificate, using the recently approved World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Verifiable Credentials standard. The certificate lets individuals prove (and request proof from others) they’ve recovered from the novel coronavirus, have tested positive for antibodies or have received a vaccination, once one is available.
Over 60 organizations in the SSI space are participating, such as Evernym, Streetcred, esatus, TNO, Georgetown University and others. The initiative also has a global spread including Consulcesi in Italy, DIDx in South Africa, TrustNet in Pakistan and Northern Block in Canada.
These digital certificates would be issued by health care institutions but controlled by the user and shared in a peer-to-peer manner. (A common misconception is that self-sovereign means self-attested, which removes the need for governments and other authorities; trust in the issuer of the credential is critical, said a spokesman for Evernym.)
The tech world agrees on the need for some kind of digital certificate. Self-sovereign identity mavens were buoyed by former Microsoft boss Bill Gates asking for digital test certificates during a Reddit AMA last month: “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it,” said Gates.
There have been a slew of COVID-19 solutions purporting to use blockchain to protect users’ privacy. These have been spurred by surveillance measures enacted in places such as China, including things like thermal facial-recognition cameras, temperature checkpoints and location tracking. While these…