Evolution and localization of Public Key Infrastructure and Digital Identity

- Introduction of Distributed Identifier (“DID”)


Digital identity is one of the toughest problems on the Internet in Hong Kong and has been a long-term challenge in smart city development. There has not been practical application using digital credentials to prove our online identity in the way we do in the offline physical world. A new wave of digital identity technology called “Distributed Identifier” (DID) is currently being developed would bring positive change to the development. Two of the most significant developments are: Firstly, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is defining data model, URL format, and operations for DID. Second, the technology implementation leverages on public and/or permissioned blockchains to provide decentralized registration and discovery of the public keys needed for digital signature verification. These combined paves the way to establish a global public utility for distributed digital identity, which is an easily portable lifetime digital identity that is uniquely verifiable.
The technology of DID could facilitate the creation of an ecosystem where innovation and the evolution of Public Key Infrastructure in public and private sectors in which DID can be used to enable authentication, encryption, privacy, plus legal binding, signing and non-repudiation. Hong Kong has been a strong advocate for privacy and is well positioned to be a pioneer in exploring this technology as it applies to the community and providing government and business with guiding principles on how to implement security, privacy and service delivery.  
DID is a globally unique persistent identifier that does not require a centralized registration authority because it is generated and/or registered cryptographically. In this case, a decentralized public key infrastructure (DPKI) does not rely on traditional certificate authorities because it uses decentralized identifiers and DID documents to discover and verify public key descriptions.
Hong Kong Public Key Infrastructure Forum Limited (“HKPKIF”) endeavours to enhance public and industry awareness of the importance of public key infrastructure  products and services in addressing the issues of authenticity, integrity, confidentiality and non-repudiation in electronic-based communications.  Therefore, HKPKIF has been studying this specific interest and will introduce DID technology to different local industry sectors, especially banking and technology. It believes DID will Synergize the HKSAR e-ID applications to enable legally binding enforcement for commercial transactions and enhance Hong Kong to become the hub of DID interoperability.

What are decentralized identifiers (DIDs)? 

(Sept 26, 2019)

Presented by:
  • Brent Zundel, Crypto Engineer at Evernym
  • Drummond Reed, Chief Architect at Evernym