Gaia-X secure and trustworthy
ecosystems with Self Sovereign Identity - Prof. Dr. Norbert Pohlmann

Gaia-X secure and trustworthy
ecosystems with Self Sovereign Identity

Self Sovereign Identity - SSI

Developing a Decentralised, User-Centric, and Secure Cloud Ecosystem

This white paper explains the key concerns, architecture and principles of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) as it applies in the Gaia-X ecosystem. Self-Sovereign Identity ensures secure and trustworthy digitalisation in the decentralised ecosystem that Gaia-X aims to be. Without the need for a conventional central Identity Management System (IdM), the Self-Sovereign Identity concept enables any subject, such as a person, organisation or even a machine, to manage their digital identities and associated credentials like membership cards, certificates or Self-Descriptions in a self-sovereign manner. Crypto standards and Self-Sovereign Identity standards, in combination with Web3-compliant technology components, enable the Gaia-X ecosystem to gain the required level of trust without the need for centrally hosted and controlled Identity Providers (IDPs).

Why build a cloud ecosystem with SSI?
Given the high economic potential of the next generation Web3 in line with data protection requirements, many businesses and governments have recognised the importance of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) and have already started the adoption of SSI on a global scale. Covid tracker and test and vaccination certificate apps, in particular, have accelerated its adoption. The European Union is investing heavily in the Decentralised Identity Framework ESSIF (European Self Sovereign Identity Framework) used for next-generation digitalisation (Web3) in the public and private sector.
However, the SSI ecosystem will only be accepted and adopted by users if it provides unique data protection benefits and the technologies used are future-proof. Another important factor for establishing trust in the next-generation digital world is the appropriate community support following open-source principles, standards, and wide adoption in popular software components around Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) .

Business and social relevance of an SSI ecosystem for digital identities
The following subitems highlight aspects of an SSI and cloud ecosystem that are relevant for the economy and society:

Digitalisation and acceptance by citizens
Digitalisation is of high business relevance, as the use of innovative technologies helps to simplify processes and make them more efficient. It is, therefore, a vital factor in maintaining competitiveness. Many users would like processes and procedures to be simplified using digital technologies. However, there is also a lack of trust in how user data is collected, handled, and processed. Using the current pattern, by requiring the user to accept comprehensive terms and conditions before accessing a service, the user does not know exactly what they are giving permission for. Despite the scepticism, users want companies to build up and regain trust. They expect companies to act responsibly and trustworthy when providing new technologies: only when users believe that their trust is justified will they accept and use new technologies and information technology (IT) services. The Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) approach can help build this trust because it is designed to be user-centric and user-experience-friendly with fine granular control of permissions and data usage.

The economic relevance of an SSI ecosystem for digital identities
Manually executed processes and media breaks are the reason for inefficient processes and thus impair optimal productivity. The economic and political relevance of accelerated digitalisation can be derived from this. Use cases show, for example, how the optimisation of supply chains can be implemented by means of digitalisation, which enables digital and well-structured verifiable credentials to be processed easily, quickly, securely and in a trustworthy manner. The implementation of digital identities and credentials has an exceptionally high economic benefit for application development companies. The SSI approach both offers a high degree of sovereignty and has enormous economic potential.

Technological sovereignty
Technological sovereignty is an increasingly important factor since – in the short to medium term – the added value share of information technology and the Internet, and thus the data in all industries, will increase enormously. For free, independent, and comprehensive use, in terms of shaping our society, the development of competencies and key technologies must be promoted in a targeted manner in critical key sectors. This is the only way of counteracting potential risks that may arise because of dependencies on the market leaders. In addition, an early positioning in innovative technologies and concepts is of decisive relevance in remaining competitive in the global, national or European arena. This requires reducing dependencies, confidently and trustworthily designing the use of future relevant technologies, and also actively promoting them. SSI technology is crucial for digital identities and enables greater autonomy to be achieved with regard to the use and exploitation of personal data.

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Self Sovereign Identity - SSI
Gaia-X secure and trustworthy
ecosystems with Self Sovereign Identity Prof. Dr. Norbert Pohlmann - Cyber-Sicherheitsexperten