Who gets to say who you are?

September 2018
As anyone who has taken a freshman-year philosophy class knows, the question of “who you are” is a tricky one. In our day-to-day lives, the question is largely answered by the government. We are born, our parents give us a name - and then local institutions issue us a long list of personal identification documents (PID) over the course of our lives.

In the United States, we first get a birth certificate - signed by the attending physician, our parents, and the local registrar - in order that we can each be officially considered a person. Later we (our parents) apply for a social security card, and most of us memorize this nine-digit number before we finish 5th grade.

As we go through life, we can use these documents to register for public school, receive health care, and apply for other government benefits. We can apply to get a state ID card - or take a test to obtain a driver’s license - when we get older. If we want to travel, we can get a passport - a document which certifies who we are in a way that is accepted by other countries.

But who are you really?

Of course, no sane person would try to claim that you are just a name on a piece of paper. You are not just a static object - you do things. You interact with the world, and the interactions that you carry out reflect back on you and help to shape your real, personal, identity.

In the modern economy, companies have gone to great lengths to try to track your actions in order to better get to know you and to find out what you do, when, where and how. Companies have learned how to capitalize on this information - you are their intended customer, and by finding out as much about you as possible, they can sell you ‘stuff’ more easily.   

With the advent of spending cards in the 50s and 60s, tracking your actions became very easy. Everytime you make a payment, your credit card company knows. Overtime, the company can begin to make inferences about your behavior using the data you provided them. You might not be too worried about this fact - it was you, after all, who chose to go with that credit card company. But eventually, your data is likely be sold to a third party.

Payment service companies know whether you prefer pizza or sushi. They know how much gas you buy in a week and where you buy it, and as a result are able to track where you are going, what you are doing, what your preferences are and many other things about your personal life.

Even the most broad information about you has monetary value for companies. It is common practice, today, for big businesses to store, analyse, buy and sell demographic information, in addition to your data regarding your spending habits.

Blockpass lets you say who you are

If people are going to analyze your data, you should have the ability to choose who those people are. Blockpass, by giving users control over their online identities, provides a first step in this direction.

It is in this way that Blockpass is a “user-centric” identity application - the user’s choice is first. By creating a Blockpass identity, you will become able to access many types of services online in just a few clicks. Once you use the Blockpass application to store your documents on your device (and your device only) there will be no need to constantly re-verify every time you open account online.

Blockpass enabled services will not and cannot sell your data to a third party - the only way anyone can access your data is if you have expressly approved them yourself.

Most regulated services online - investment platforms and online banks in particular - but also ICO projects are required by the law to keep a certain amount of your data on hand. With Blockpass, you are empowered to get a real picture of where you are sending your data, and you finally have a say about what happens with that data.

The next step

Ultimately, Blockpass wants to give users another level of control over their data - the ability to request that their data be revoked from everywhere they have submitted it, right from the app. We still have a long way to go to this goal, but we have proven so far, that it isn’t impossible.

Eventually, one day, with the integration of Zero Knowledge Proofs and other technologies, the sharing of data can be eliminated. But until then, putting choice first is key to data security - and Blockpass does this well.