The following interview was conducted by Bitcoinomics.Net with Janina Lowisz, the first “holder” of a “Blockchain ID,” about the Blockchain ID, world citizenship and numerous other topics relating to the BlockchainID.
What is a BlockchainID?
The blockchain ID was invented by Chris Ellis from World Crypto Network and Bitnation founder Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, and makes use of the Bitcoin blockchain and available cryptographic tools to provide IDs that are not issued by nation-states but privately. It is one of the pilot projects Bitnation did so far to show how governance services can be done in a private, voluntary and decentralised way. Today, the blockchainID could be used for online verification, as part of a reputation system to facilitate transactions, for voting, or it could be used by stateless people or in war zones. The blockchainID will be available on www.bitnation.co in Q1.
What makes the BlockchainID secure?
PGP encryption and the blockchain make it a secure, decentralized system that makes it nearly impossible for people to fake your identity, unlike with emails or social network logins.
People create a PGP key and witness each other`s existence at a certain place and time, validate and prove their existence by signing each other`s IDs with their PGP key. The content of the ID is bound to the owner`s key, so he has full control and no one can change it.
The blockchainID includes the merkle root of the latest block to prove the person must have existed at least in that certain time. To prove that it was that block`s specific time, the blockchainID document gets timestamped.
It also includes the venue`s public IP address to prove where it took place.
What do you know about Estonia’s e-citizenship, and does this tie into the project?
The blockchainID is a separate project, but certainly the e-citizenship is a fascinating project, too, providing people all over the world with governance services in a voluntary way, enabling them to facilitate their business or make use services like digital identification. It is a step in the right direction and shows that the past version of the nation state is challenged in different ways, which I see as useful promotion also for other alternatives like the blockchainID. However, as the blockchain is worldwide, a blockchain based system could offer worldwide services and would not only be voluntary, too, but also decentralised, making the system more secure. The e-citizenship would still be centralised and therefore its existence is dependent on benevolent policy, whereas the blockchain cannot be stopped.
Do you feel like you’re carrying on a tradition of World Citizenship? (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Passport)
The blockchainID is not a passport, and has nothing to do with the “World Passport”. The blockchainID is one of the decentralised applications that Bitnation, a blockchain services provider, will offer. The idea is to use the blockchain for a reputation system similar to ebay. People who use Bitnation services would get a blockchainID on which all their transactions within the Bitnation system could be recorded.
I don`t feel like carrying on any tradition, I more feel like a pioneer that now has the responsibility to promote the social good that the blockchain can do.
Some people think the BlockchainID, by doing away with the nation-state, will usher in a private dystopia run by financial lords. Is this what you want?
I tried to think about what people mean by that.
First, people will not be dependent on companies to have blockchain services available. The tools to create a blockchainID are easily available and everyone can look up in YouTube and GitHub how it`s done. Therefore, there is no need to hire someone and local communities can do it all by themselves.
Second, it will not make a difference to the blockchain whether there are governments or private societies. As it is all decentralised, a company in a stateless society can not shut down the blockchain- same as today, where a government can not shut it down either.
Third, the blockchainID enables people to decide which details they want to make public, e.g. if they want to use their full name, provide their address or not. My blockchainID includes the IP address of the hotel where the event took place. This freedom means people can not be tracked and therefore the blockchainID does not lead to a dystopia-like surveillance “state”.
Some people in comments’ sections say becoming a “world citizen” is useless unless we get invaded by aliens. Do you agree?
The blockchainID has the uses I mentioned in the beginning, whereas the word “world citizen”, like the Bitnation slogan “blockchains, not borders”, reflects our philosophy, that people should not see themselves as dependent on what the situation in the nation-state is they happen to be born in, but make use of voluntary blockchain services that are available worldwide.
What technologies and services brought to the world via the Blockchain excite you most?
In developing countries, the blockchain can provide infrastructure and empower local communities, so the social good may be comparable to MPesa.
In general, I think the most useful blockchain application today is the blockchain marriage: Bad behaviour would influence people`s reputation on the blockchain and most important, there is no need for a divorce, as a smart contract ends automatically if it is not renewed, so there are no negative consequences. No one needs to pay for the other one, so the blockchain marriage would mean more justice.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me, you can follow my Facebook page, follow me @BlockchainGirl, Chris Ellis @MrChrisEllis and Bitnation @MyBitNation, you can visit me at the CoinScrum meetup Tuesday evenings in the Vape Lab in Shoreditch, and join the Bitnation google hangouts, Saturday mornings/afternoons at http://www.meetup.com/BITNATION/.