June 28, 2019
The Sovrin Network is known as a global, decentralized, and public utility for self-sovereign identity because the network serves as a trustworthy, underlying infrastructure upon which organizations can build any identity system. One such organization that is integrating the self-sovereign identity capabilities of the Sovrin Network into its services and products is Anonyome Labs.
Anonyome Labs builds privacy software and security solutions for global brands. Anonyome’s technology empowers end users to enjoy the conveniences of the digital world but with enhanced safety, privacy, and control.
We asked Dr. Paul Ashley, Chief Technology Officer at Anonyome Labs, to tell us more about how Anonyome is using the Sovrin Network to augment its products and services.
Sovrin Foundation: Tell us about Anonyome Labs. Where did it come from? Who makes up your team?
Paul Ashley: Founded in 2014, Anonyome Labs was created to give people control and freedom over their personal and private information. The company was created with the belief that people should be able to determine how, what, and with whom they share their personal details. Instead of consumers having to rely on 3rd parties to be the good stewards of their personal information, we set out to build tools for the end user to ultimately decide what data they share when browsing, shopping, socializing, etc…online. In today’s digital ecosystem, every time user information is required for access, digital exhaust increases and is perpetual. At Anonyome, we’re working hard on shifting that paradigm.
Our leadership team comes from a diverse range of backgrounds, with a mix of both extensive, corporate, and startup experience. Many of us spent a significant time in enterprise security software where we came to a consensus that not only do large scale organizations need to safeguard their infrastructure from data threats, but people also need to be able to protect themselves at the individual level which is how the concept of a Sudo was born. We like to think of a Sudo as a new standard in digital privacy, and it sits at the nucleus of all the products we build. A Sudo is an online profile that can include a name, phone number, email address, virtual credit card, web browser, and more which can be used online, all without revealing any sensitive or personal information.
SF: What are some of the services and products Anonyome Labs offers?
PA: Anonyome Labs has built a scalable, privacy-as-a-service platform that enables global brand owners to offer valuable privacy and security products to their end users. As I mentioned earlier, at the core of Anonyome’s offering is the concept of a Sudo profile that enables our enterprise customers’ end users to create and manage various digital profiles with each Sudo, providing a range of individually sandboxed, privacy-protecting capabilities. For example, each Sudo is enabled with E2E encrypted voice calling, video calling, messaging, email, compartmentalized private browsing with blocking technology, password manager, VPN, and other value-added services. The Anonyome platform (called the Sudo Platform) includes a set of SDKs and APIs that allow a global brand to quickly integrate Sudo identities with their associated capabilities and services into their product offerings.
SF: Please describe MySudo. What stage of development is it in? What is the current level of use by customers?
PA: Today, so many aspects of our lives are managed online, requiring a wide range of personal information in exchange for access to services. The MySudo application enables users to create Sudo profiles with different identity attributes that allows them to exercise control of the personal information they share, whether for shopping, socializing, browsing, or whenever personal information is required.
The MySudo application entered Apple’s AppStore in April 2018 and has achieved a solid, dedicated following among privacy-informed users—these users are concerned about the digital footprint they leave online and who is using their personal information. For desktop users, MySudo is also accessible via a companion web browser app that allows users to access their Sudos and various capabilities from any web browser. Users enjoy the fact that MySudo has frequent releases of new functionality and enhancements throughout the year.
SF: What motivated your work in decentralized identity?
PA: There are two common models for identity management on the internet: centralized and federated. The centralized model requires the user to create accounts on each service that they access, resulting in users having numerous accounts. Each of those accounts store personal identity information of the user that is subject to analysis, sale, and theft. The alternative model is the federated model known as the social login. In this case, a user trades away their privacy to a major corporate player (e.g. Facebook, Google, etc.) for the added convenience of reducing the amount of accounts or logins they require. Both of these models are very poor for privacy.
Given Anonyome Labs’ focus on privacy protection for users and on digital identity management, we have been closely following the evolution of decentralized identity since our inception. A decentralized identity is a unique concept that moves the control of a digital identity to the user, which is serendipitous with Anonyome Labs’ core mission. And most importantly for Anonyome Labs’ users, a decentralized identity provides a level of privacy and security that is unavailable with current identity management models.
SF: How have some of the recent advancements of decentralized identity helped accelerate the development of MySudo?
PA: At Anonyome Labs, we are enhancing our Sudo Platform to support the concept of decentralized identity by leveraging the capabilities of the Sovrin Network. Supporting the self-sovereign identity features and functionality is a key, privacy-enhancing capability for our global brand partners and will also extend to our MySudo users.
The first area where we focused our efforts was to integrate the Sovrin wallet and agent functionality within the Sudo Platform. This will introduce the ability to generate and manage Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) as well as enable participation in self-sovereign identity activities and communities. We are working to also make these capabilities available in the MySudo application.
SF: What kinds of companies will benefit from the Sudo Platform?
PA: Large, Fortune 500 global brands that have a large user base will have the ability to provide privacy-enhancing technology to their end users. Today, most users are powerless to protect their personal data from rampant exploitation by hackers, trackers, and data brokers to name a few. Conversely, with the Sudo Platform and its range of capabilities, global brands can integrate a turnkey privacy solution that provides their users with control of their information along with valuable privacy services including support of self-sovereign identities.
SF: What role did Hyperledger Indy and the open source community play in the development of Sudo Platform and MySudo?
PA: The work that the Hyperledger Indy team has done provides Anonyome Labs with a set of core software capabilities that enables our Sudo Platform and associated products like the MySudo application to easily deliver self-sovereign identity capabilities. The open source codebase allows us to easily leverage these capabilities, integrate the core concepts of the solution, and submit changes and feedback to the community. We find this open and team-based approach to software development very beneficial to Anonyome Labs.
SF: What is appealing about creating a solution to run on the Sovrin Network?
PA: In 2018, Anonyome Labs was accepted as a Founding Steward on the Sovrin Network. Our goal at that time was to assist with the operation and management of the Sovrin Network to support its mission.
We believe that the Sovrin Network is the leading decentralized technology for enabling every day users to leverage self-sovereign identities. The Sovrin Network provides not only the decentralized ledger to use for self-sovereign identities but all of the supporting software that enabled Anonyome Labs to quickly integrate these capabilities into our Sudo Platform and MySudo application.
SF: What do you think the next five years looks like for digital identity?
PA: As every day users become better informed about the importance of privacy protection and securing their personal data, we believe the capabilities provided by self-sovereign identity will become an indispensable tool for users. It will give users the power to control how much of their personal data they provide to service providers and which personal data elements they will keep private. We also believe that self-sovereign technologies will similarly benefit service providers that must navigate a vast array of privacy regulations, such as GDPR and others on the fast-approaching horizon.
SF: How will technologies like the Sovrin Network help create a future of self-sovereign digital identity?
PA: With the decentralized ledger technology provided by Sovrin, the software industry finally has an independent system on which to base self-sovereign identities. Rather than users having to manage hundreds of separate service accounts or rely on privacy-exploiting social login services, users can finally take control of their personal data.
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