IBM, SecureKey use blockchain to protect identities

blockchain to protect consumers' identities

IBM and SecureKey Technologies are working together to enable a new digital identity and attribute sharing network based on IBM’s own version of blockchain.

The companies say the network will be designed to make it easier for consumers to verify they are who they say they are, in a privacy-enhanced, security-rich and efficient way.

When launched later this year, IBM says consumers can use the network to instantly verify their identity for services such as new bank accounts, driver’s licenses or utilities.

IBM says creating a highly secure, global and enterprise-ready ecosystem for sharing identity requires both “advanced federated identity technology” and blockchain technology specifically designed for regulated industries.

Together SecureKey and IBM are developing a digital identity and attribute sharing network using IBM’s Blockchain service which is built on top of the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric v1.0.

As a permissioned blockchain, the Hyperledger Fabric is an essential component in delivering services that comply with regulations where data protection and confidentiality matter.

The network is currently in the testing phase in Canada, and once it goes live later in 2017 Canadian consumers will be able to opt-in to the new blockchain-based service using a mobile app.

Consumers – or network members – will be able to control what identifying information they share from trusted credentials to the organizations of their choice, for those organizations to validate the consumer’s identity and arrange new services.

For example, if a consumer has proven their identity with their bank and a credit agency, they can grant permission to share their data with a utility to create a new account. Since the bank and the credit agency have already gone through extensive verification of the consumer’s identity, the utility can choose to rely on the fact that the information is verified, and the consumer can be approved for new services.

“What IBM is building with SecureKey and members of the digital identity ecosystem in Canada, including major banks, telecom companies and government agencies, will help tackle the toughest challenges surrounding identity,” says Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain.

“This method is an entirely different approach to identity verification, and together with SecureKey, we have a head start on putting it on the blockchain. This is a prime example of the type of innovation permissioned blockchain networks can accelerate.”

“Hyperledger Fabric is by far the most advanced permissioned-blockchain technology available today, in my opinion, both in protecting user data and allowing us to work within the context of industry and country privacy laws,” says Greg Wolfond, founder and CEO, SecureKey Technologies.

“Among the many contributors to Hyperledger Fabric including SecureKey, IBM is a standout innovator that has proven that they can rapidly bring blockchain solutions to production. We are very excited to enter into this formal agreement that will benefit consumers around the world.”

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Canada’s leading banks, including BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank and TD joined the digital identity ecosystem in October, 2016, investing $27 million collectively in SecureKey.

The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and the Command Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analytics (CCICADA), a research center of excellence funded by the US Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, have also provided funding to bring the new approach to digital identity to market.

SecureKey says it’s identity management solution is supported by its association with industry organisations and regulators such as DIACC, Privacy By Design, NIST, FIDO, OIX, Kantara and the Linux Foundation.