Loretta Anania, Gaelle Le Gars, Rob van Kranenburg: Disposable Identity Definition (NGI Forward)

Disposable identities are temporary attribute-based identities integrated in any smart contract between a receiver and a supplier. A digital context-based sharing of data that is generalizable: to apply a digital id internet layer to any existing communication service.  

This definition is taken from the forthcoming book chapter “DISPOSABLE IDENTITIES” by Loretta Anania, EC Gaelle Le Gars, Rob van Kranenburg. The authors are linked to H2020 ICT Grant Agreement 825652 NGI FORWARD. 

Disposable identities are the antidote to continuous and real-time tracking and tracing of identified users. Instead they operate via multiples of composable’ attribute-based relational identities. Generated for each single interaction between user and service (or object and service) disposable identities are to be disposed of immediately after an event transaction. 

With disposable identities, an enormous number of diverse applications can run on this ecosystem using a strict attribute-based solution, needing no full disclosure (of identity or social network ties) beyond the bare minimum: eg age, ability to pay for the service, legal compliance in terms of insurance and accountability. Digital services can be delivered to authenticated users without requiring the need for a single full set of identifying data on identity attributes to be shared.

The advantages of disposable identities are to minimize risks of data leaks and of unauthorized reuse of personal data by third party service providers. The technical framework rests on provable computing. Developed by zenroom.org, it runs on Virtual Machines embedded in the chip used with any personal communication device and any connected object. These chips are a key material component of the disposable identity approach. Similar and equivalent to a secure ID of Passports and requiring a comparable level of confidence in the fabrication process.  This ‘sovereignty’ relies on chips manufactured under EU jurisdiction. While this represents a major change from the current supply chain for commercial chips (almost entirely sourced from China for the EU market) it can  serve to invest in digital geopolitical and environmental European Commission priorities. Zenroom also runs on existing integrated chips. It was developed as a European alternative for achieving a level of accessibility, provability and certification of computing in general. Disposable Identities is the part dealing with verifiable yet ephemeral credentials to be exchanged.