Explaining web3 identity with Jonathon Liu, VP of Marketing at ShareRing

February 15, 2024

Digital identity, whether in Web2 or Web3, encompasses the unique attributes, credentials, and characteristics that identify an individual or entity in the digital realm. In Web2, digital identity relies on centralized systems, while Web3 encompasses a much broader scope of infrastructure technology, privacy principles, identity verification, and honest self-representation. Ultimately, digital identities are an amalgamation of reputable data and information pertaining to our in-real-life (IRL) identities.

What are digital identities, and how are they different from web2 and web3?

Web3 identity, on the other hand, is a more complex and revolutionary concept. It embraces the principles of decentralization, user ownership, and privacy through the utilization of blockchain and other decentralized technologies. In the Web3 ecosystem, individuals have greater control over their identities and can interact directly with various decentralized applications (DApps) without relying on central authorities. This is achieved by having the right infrastructure technology in place.

We asked our VP of Marketing, Jonathon, to explain the core principles behind web3 identity.

If I asked a room full of people what identity meant to them, the answers would vary between their age, name, nationality, race…or any biometric information about themselves. Typically, this information is linked to official documents like e-passports and government IDs. This is how I would generally define web2 identity.

When it comes to identity in web3, it’s more than the digital representation of yourself on-chain. I’d say there are 3 core principles that underlie the basis of web3 identity.

Firstly, its the digitisation of your in-real-life (IRL) identity into a format that can be relayed through digital channels. The digitisation process is an important step in unifying data standards, particularly when digital identities are intended  to be composable across different ecosystems. Typically this is achieved through verifiable credentials, which are cryptographically verified pieces of information pertaining to ourselves in a broadly accepted standard called W3C. Aside from VCs, we at ShareRing also explore the use of NFTs and Soulbound Tokens for on-chain identity digitisation on ShareLedger, bearing in mind we take privacy principles into consideration.

The second principle is the creation of reputable and trusted information. Given that we operate in a trustless environment, that is, we no longer rely on 3rd party intermediaries to verify our claims on our behalf, the data that represents our identity must be trustworthy, reputable, and verifiable on it’s own. 

Lastly, web3 identity is about the usability of your sensitive information. By usability, I mean the mechanics in which your data can be exchanged from point A to B, the selective sharing of information, the revoking of access to your data, and most importantly the ability to obfuscate your identity.

To summarise, web3 identity is essentially a broad terminology that encompasses the infrastructure technology, identity verification, privacy principles, and honest self representation of ourselves on-chain.

A critical aspect of Web3 identity is the notion of self-sovereign identity (SSI). Self-sovereign identity empowers users to manage and control their identity data without the need for intermediaries. It allows individuals to create digital identities that are portable, private, and secure. In this model, users store their identity information in decentralized identity wallets, and they can selectively share specific information with different services and applications while maintaining ownership and control over their data.

To tie this article off, web2 identity revolves around centralized systems managed by third parties, whereas web3 identity embraces individuals to take charge of their own data and interact with dApps independently. This shift from web2 to web3 identity represents a paradigm shift that prioritizes user privacy, security, and autonomy in the digital world.