January 30, 2020
Note: In celebration of Sovrin Foundation’s new membership program, the Foundation is writing a series of blogs that highlight the core activities it provides as a nonprofit which Sovrin Chairman Phil Windley refers to as the “Four Pillars of an SSI Network”. Much of the material used in this blog post was originally published on Phil’s blog Technometria.
The Sovrin Foundation’s nonprofit work is based on the four pillars needed to create an SSI network. This blog is going to focus on the first of those four pillars which is ‘Governance’. At the Foundation, we like to refer to our governance as our ‘secret sauce’ because it’s what makes the Sovrin Network a true identity metasystem—a trustworthy, underlying infrastructure upon which people can build any kind of identity system.
Sovrin Foundation Chairman Phil Windley explains the importance of our work around governance further:
“In a blog post on recent revisions to the Sovrin Governance Framework, I wrote:
Others in the blockchain space might wonder why Sovrin spends so much time, energy, and money complying with regulations. It’s not just about various actors in the system being risk averse. An identity system that you can’t use everywhere is just a different technology implementation of what we have now with Login with Apple (or Amazon or Google or Facebook or…). Credential issuers and credential verifiers of all stripes, including banks, governments, educational institutions, etc, must be comfortable with using Sovrin for it to gain universal adoption as an identity metasystem. These institutions will avoid using any system that is perceived as rogue or otherwise non-compliant.
If the Sovrin community is not aiming to build a universal, interoperable system, then we’re just building another silo that perpetuates all the problems with the existing silos: inflexibility, insecurity, and inconvenience.
Governance is critical to universal interoperability in an identity metasystem because all participants must be able to make their own decisions about who and what to trust. Governance gives assurances by providing process and accountability. As this Hackernoon article from Agata Slater says:
The hard part [of bootstrapping SSI] is setting up the governance and collaboration model that will ensure that the federation is reliable, secure, and affords appropriate data protection.
In particular, trust, the reason for an identity metasystem, can’t exist without credential fidelity and provenance. And those require governance.”¹
“This is the ultimate point: No single entity owns or controls Sovrin, not even the Sovrin Foundation. The Sovrin Network is a global public utility that we all own, collectively, just like we all own the internet. And the governance model of the Trust Framework, along with governance of the open source Hyperledger Indy code run by all Sovrin Stewards, has been carefully designed to reflect this. All of this is captured in the Sovrin Governance Framework which is developed and published under an open public process available to all.
The public and open nature of Sovrin supports an unprecedented level of autonomy, privacy, security, and control by the people and organizations using Sovrin.”²
We welcome you and your organization to join us in this important work by becoming a Sovrin Foundation Member. Until February 29, 2020, any organization that wishes to support the Sovrin Foundation by becoming a Donor, and therefore a Sovrin Foundation Member, will receive a 10% discount. To take advantage of this discount, fill out the interest form at https://sovrin.org/join-sovrin/.