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Principal Authority – new article on Wyoming law defining Digital Identity

From: Christopher Allen <ChristopherA@lifewithalacrity.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2021 12:38:58 -0700
Message-ID: <CACrqygA6sDcu+XUqp2=b964m9AJZ05=NzmABLJ9E0WBth8kRKg@mail.gmail.com>
To: Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
Cc: Chris Rothfuss <Chris.Rothfuss@wyoleg.gov>, Dazza Greenwood <dazza@civics.com>, Clare Sullivan <cls268@law.georgetown.edu>
W3C Credentials Community:

I've been involved in the Wyoming legislature's *Select Committee on
Blockchain, Financial Technology & Digital Innovation Technology* to help
form a new legal basis for future digital identity legislation in Wyoming.

There has been strong support in the legislature for concept of
self-sovereign identity, but the challenge has been what existing legal
framework & precedents can we build new laws from. In particular, we wanted
to avoid introducing any new laws under property rights frameworks.

What we've found as a good framework is the concept of "Principal
Authority" which comes from the Laws of Agency, which allows us to leverage
fiduciary style Laws of Custom to define requirements for practices when
digital identity is delegated to others (whether for authorization or for
use of data).

I've written up a layman's article (as I am not a lawyer) introducing this
topic at:

https://www.blockchaincommons.com/articles/Principal-Authority/


In summary:

Wyoming passed earlier this year the first legal definition for digital
identity https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2021/SF0039 — a key quote:

"the intangible digital representation of, by and for a natural person,
over which he has principal authority and through which he intentionally
communicates or acts."


So where's the self-sovereign identity in this concept of Principal
Authority? In short: Principal Authority *recognizes a Principal*,
which *acknowledges
the existence* of an entity at the heart of a digital identity.

There's a lot more using this legal framework this implies. Since Principal
Authority comes from the Laws of Agency, this allows us to show that this
entity has Authority over that digital identity. In my option, that is
self-sovereign identity in a nutshell!

Also, because Principal Authority is drawn from the Laws of Agency, it says
that that Authority is delegatable. Other people can make use of your
digital identity.

Delegation of identity happens already when you construct an account on a
social media service. The difference? When it's your recognized Principal
Authority that is being used, your delegates must work to your benefit.
Like a CPA or doctor, their choices must be in your interest.

That's also what self-sovereign identity is all about: a digital identity
that benefits you. That's not what we have today, where social media and
other internet sites are using your identity to benefit themselves.

There's more detail to this, many unanswered questions, and some subtlety
on what control really means and how duties of care can be established.
Take a look at the article, and let me know what you think!

We will be having a public meeting on the topic of Digital Identity &
Principal Authority with the Wyoming Select Committee next Wednesday
(September 22nd) at 2pm MT. Details about the meeting and a link to live
stream will be published next week at
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Committees/2021/S19 . You can also request to offer
your own public testimony during this session by emailing lso@wyoleg.gov.

Bottom line: The concept of delegatable Principal Authority that works to
your benefit may offer a new legal framework for digital identity. If you
are interested in this topic, let me know.

In addition, the co-chair of Select Committee and leader of the Digital
Identity subcommittee Chris Rothfuss <Chris.Rothfuss@wyoleg.gov> is likely
open to greater participation from those with legal drafting experience to
work on applying this concept into customs, best practices, and duties of
care for consideration by the Wyoming Legislature in the coming year. Let
him know if you can help. (Like the CCG, we need more drafters than
talkers!).

-- Christopher Allen

P.S. Establishing self-sovereign identity is part of the work that we're
doing at Blockchain Commons. If this is important to you, please become a
monthly patron! Even $20 a month as an individual (or $100 for a
corporation) makes a difference!
Received on Thursday, 16 September 2021 19:39:48 UTC

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