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Enterprise blockchain firm R3 joins Sovrin Network for identity


Yesterday, enterprise blockchain company R3 announced it signed up as a steward for the Sovrin Network, the public self-sovereign identity network. R3 now joins 75 other organizations which operate validation nodes for the decentralized network.

With growing concerns around the security of centralized digital identity databases, blockchain is being seen as a tool to increase the protection of personal data. Sovrin allows users to control their identity and credentials, and the user can store their data as they see fit. This might include birth date, qualifications and even medical records.

Personal details are not stored on the Sovrin blockchain, which uses Decentralized Identifiers (DiDs) to enable the verification of an individual’s data. The network uses blockchain to help to verify that the data was issued by trusted organizations such as government bodies. So storing the trusted organization’s public identity is one of the primary roles of the blockchain.

Individuals and organizations use private DiDs, which represent the relationship between two parties. For example, the local passport authority will store a DiD which can be used to verify the validity of a passport. Depending on what the user has permitted, only the details of the validity will be shared and not the expiry date of the passport.

Last year, R3 and Evernym, the original Sovrin developer, partnered to trial interoperability between Sovrin and Corda. Additionally, R3 has developed an identity service for the Corda blockchain called Cordentity. This leverages Hyperledger Indy software, the same code that underpins the Sovrin network.

“The power for organizations and individuals to exercise control over their digital footprint aligns with R3’s own ethos of developing blockchain in an ethical and sustainable way,” said Abbas Ali, Head of Digital Identity at R3. “Our Corda platform is designed to enable private transactions, and Cordentity works alongside the Indy ledger to provide a solution uniquely suitable for self-sovereignty in the digital world.”

“This type of collaboration between organizations with purpose-built blockchains, where privacy is the shared goal, is what the Foundation seeks in order to create a stronger, interoperable blockchain ecosystem,” said Heather Dahl, Executive Director & CEO of the Sovrin Foundation.

A lot has been done to address privacy concerns. Blockchain is being increasingly used to secure personal details of individuals. Recently, Evernym raised $8 million in funding led by Medici Ventures, a unit of

Digital Bazaar, another steward of Sovrin, is working on a blockchain identity project with GS1 US, SecureKey and TradeLens among other partners.