It’s possible to look at all Ethereum transactions ever made. Finding out who made them is a bit harder. So much so, the FBI pay private companies a lot of cash to do this for them. But, this may all be changing with uPort.
What is uPort?
uPort is a way of registering identity on the Ethereum blockchain. It enables users to identify themselves and send either information or value to other users in a clear, transparent way.
How does it work?
uPort uses the same cryptography that Ethereum uses but for a different purpose.
Blockchains are based around public and private keys. Anyone can see the public key and it is used to make transactions. The private key is more like a password that only the user holds. It is used to sign transactions.
Each uPort public identity is a public key. The identity is secured by a corresponding private key, or password, which nobody else knows.
Have they done a pilot?
In 2017, uPort partnered with the city of Zug, in Switzerland, to use its identity management for government services.
In November, the first official citizen ID registration took place in front of a live audience at the Zug government offices. Citizens use QR codes to access the service and only have to verify their identity with official documents once. uPort plan to start introducing non-governmental voting initiatives, in 2018.
Did you know?
uPort founded the Decentralized Identity Foundation with Microsoft, Blockstack and a core group of blockchain companies in 2017. It now consists of more than 35 organizations.
What advantages does it have?
- 🦍 Secure - It uses public/private key cryptography to keep identities in the right hands.
- 🚰 Transparent - By publicly identifying addresses, it makes the blockchain less anonymous.
- 🎲 Multi-faceted - It can be used for a wide range of identity solutions, including supply chains.
What disadvantages does it have?
- 🚔 Privacy - Connecting identity and the transfer of money could lead to governmental control over its citizens.
- 🗝️ Private key - If someone takes control of a user’s private key, they can steal their identity.
Governments around the world have been criticized for rigging or influencing elections, and not just their own. Bringing the security and transparency of a public blockchain to voting and other government services could bring an end to this controversy.
Perhaps blockchain, which has always been criticized as anonymous, will help to stop these shadowy practices and in doing so, uPort is lighting the way.