In the 2016 Ted Talk “How the blockchain is changing money and business,” the speaker discussed the enormous potential of blockchain technology. He believed that blockchain was capable of not only revolutionizing our financial system, but also protecting farmers’ land rights, facilitating sharing economy, helping people transacting money, securing individual privacy and enhancing intellectual property protection. Among all the topics he touched upon, digital identity was undoubtedly one of the most intriguing ones.
Privacy protection has long been the centre of public discourses. On the one hand, living in a fast-paced society, people are required to upload, share and exchange their identity information both online and offline. For example, in order to sign up a Twitter account, users need to submit their personal information and go through identity verification. This is also true when it comes to applying for bank loans, which requires users to give loads of information to centralized institutions so as to prove they are creditworthy. On the other hand, identity thefts and personal information breaches have become rampant. In 2018 alone, billions of people were affected by personal data breaches, all around the world.
That Ted Talk mentioned that blockchain technology could be used to establish a digital identity system that allows users to only give away the shred of information that’s required to do something. For example, when you purchase a product, the seller doesn’t even need to know who you are. They just need to know that they got paid.
In the past 4 years, this talk has been viewed by more than 2.5 million people. Meanwhile, the blockchain industry has been growing rapidly, with many supporters claiming that this technology is going to create a decentralized world that is more inclusive, resilient and secure. Is blockchain technology hype or hope? This article is going to answer this question by explaining how blockchain technology can be used to empower a digital identity system that is tamper-proof, privacy-centred and efficient. More importantly, this article highlights the significant roles played by DREP in applying and improving blockchain technology to protect user information.
Blockchain improves security
In essence, blockchain can be regarded as an immutable distributed database that is supported by a chain of blocks. Information is stored in blocks and each block is given its own hash code and the hash code of the previous block. Hash codes are generated by a math function that turns digital information into a string of numbers and letters. If that information is altered in any way, the hash code changes as well. Since every block is linked linearly and chronologically, it’s almost impossible to edit or delete on-chain information. Let’s say a hacker attempts to change your personal information. As soon as they edit your information, the block’s hash will change. The next block in the chain will still contain the old hash, and the hacker would need to update that block in order to cover their tracks. However, doing so would change that block’s hash. And the next, and so on.
Therefore, blockchain, with its well-designed structure and logic, will be capable of establishing a tamper-proof digital identity system, ensuring fairness and transparency. Such a system will be great news for victims of China’s college admissions scandal. In June, news that a host of children from wealthy and well-connected families in Shandong Province had stolen identities of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and attended their dream schools led to public outcry. It seems that the centralized system needs the help of blockchain technology.
DREP’s Smart Pipeline
DREP has realized that blockchain is essential for building a secure digital identity system, but team DREP is also aware of the trilemma of blockchain technology: decentralization, scalability and security. It means that blockchain cannot improve on performance without forgoing some aspects of decentralization or security. As a result, the data processing ability of blockchain pales in comparison to that of centralized system. To overcome this difficulty, DREP has proposed an alternative method to improve scalability via the development of the “Smart Pipeline” technology, which is similar to a Layer 2 solution, to improve batch data processing capabilities.
Blockchain protects privacy
It’s crucial to understand that a blockchain-powered identity system doesn’t need users to share sensitive information directly or explicitly. How? This has to do with the amazing power of zero-knowledge proofs. This allows credentials or identities to be shared and authenticated without revealing any related information. In reality, if you want to buy a beer, you need to show your ID card to seller to prove that you have reached the drinking age. On blockchain, all you need to do is send encrypted information related to your identity to the seller. Then you can enjoy your beer without revealing the date of your birth.
This amazing power can help people to address their privacy concerns. Living in the age of information, more and more people are becoming sceptical about the idea of being required to have identity cards, because they fret that their privacy might be violated. Indeed, in our daily life, we are constantly being asked to submit loads of valuable information to institutions and organizations without knowing how our information is used. Blockchain technology can help keep our valuable information private.
DREP Privacy Protection
DREP believes that privacy is the most valuable asset for customers and it’s DREP’s responsibility to safeguard it. This is why DREP has adopted Schnorr multi-signature algorithm and homomorphic encryption.
In comparison with other signature algorithms, the Schnoor Multi-Signature Algorithm only generates one signature. This greatly reduces signature length and block header size, which in turn lowers the cost of storage and network transmission overhead. It also provides additional benefits on the privacy front and is known for being conducive towards privacy protection.
During the deployment of DREP Chain, it is inevitable that information to third parties might be disseminated due to data sharing via the internal Smart Pipeline. In order to eliminate such occurrences and to promote maximum user security and privacy, DREP Chain adopts the use of homomorphic encryption to safeguard users’ sensitive information.
As one of the most promising technology in the 21st century, blockchain technology has enormous potential to be leveraged to build a tamper-proof and privacy-centred digital ID system. DREP, a front runner in this area, has long been trying to improve DREP DID version 2.0 through innovation and hard work. We believe that, with blockchain technology and DREP, there will be a smarter, stronger and safer digital identity system.