Building a Trust-Based Internet With the KILT Protocol
- The KILT Protocol is a blockchain-based platform for the creation of claimable, verifiable credentials in the digital world.
- It aims to create a decentralized ID system where users are in ultimate control of their data and data is not exploited by centralised monopolies.
- KILT Protocol recently won the sixth slot in the Kusuma Parachains auction and launched its mainnet.
How People Became Products on the Internet
To say that the internet has changed the course of our world would be quite an understatement. In the early years it was a way of eliminating geographical boundaries between people, snowballed into a revolution that altered the course of history. It brought the whole world on to a single platform where seamless interactions and engagements were possible.
As more people jumped on the internet bandwagon and more and more interactions started taking place, it gave rise to something that is probably more valuable than oil today - data.
User data has become so precious that companies started focusing on acquiring it. All internet-based companies require users to register for their services. This involves sharing their identities, preferences and demographic information in the process. In addition to this, every action of the user on the platform is tracked to create an accurate user profile. All of this data is stored on centralised servers and is used to either target users with personalised ads or is sold to third-party companies. The problem is that users have no control over the way in which their data is stored and used. Moreover, being stored on centralised servers, makes their data easily susceptible to hacks and thefts.
On the flip side, if users completely stopped sharing their information, they would lose the convenience of personalised services. Furthermore, if they do not really know who they are interacting with, online interactions could become a complete mess. As we head towards Web 3.0, the new iteration of the internet, there is dire need for a system that could solve these data woes and let users share only as much information as they want. This is exactly what the KILT Protocol aims to achieve.
Integrating Trust In the Digital World
Imagine a scenario where you are sick and need a doctor to check on you. If a person, X, comes to you claiming they are a doctor, it would be hard for you to trust this person, because you know nothing but their name. But, if the same person produces a medical license issued by the government, you would immediately trust them. This is because of the trust we have in the body issuing the license. Now, as mentioned before, if people stopped sharing their identities and remained anonymous, the internet would become an abyss where it would be almost impossible to trust anyone. In the real world, there are a lot of institutions we can trust to verify identities. These include the government, a university, a bank or law enforcement.
But, online, it becomes very difficult, because there are no institutions that can verify identities. This is why service providers, social media platforms and other entities on the internet end up collecting as much data as they can about an individual. If only there were trusted bodies that could verify people’s identities and issue a form of proof, companies and individuals could trust people online without knowing too much about them. Entities would trust the trusted body. This is where the KILT Protocol comes into the picture.
The KILT Protocol is a blockchain-based platform for the issuance of claimable, verifiable, credentials in the digital world. The Protocol aims to replicate the trust model of the real-world in an effort to create a safe web space where user data is not exploited. The interesting part is that the protocol creates verifiable credentials, not just for people, but also for objects, businesses and services on the internet. So, if someone wants to sign up for a subscription online, the service provider can verify their identity and they too can verify the service provider’s legitimacy. This ultimately creates a trust-based internet.
Creating a Top-Down Trust Structure
To realise its ambitious vision of creating trust in the digital world, the KILT Protocol follows a top-down structure, where there are three main players that set the trust game rolling. These players are called Attesters, Claimers, and Verifiers.
To better understand the working of the KILT network, we first need to understand the difference between identities and identifiers. Identifiers are simply names or numbers that are given to people, businesses, or machines. For example John. John is simply a name that reveals little to no information about the person behind it. An identifier alone is never sufficient to create an identity. Now, if we say John is a data scientist from England, this becomes an identity, because the additional information provides a way to better identify the person. This additional information, like age, profession and nativity, are called credentials. When an identifier is associated with a credential, an identity is created.
Coming back to the three main players, they play unique roles in the working of the network to create, verify and use these identities across the internet.
We first have claimers, who can either be individuals, objects or businesses claiming something about themselves to create an identity online. They can create claims by using their identifier and signing the claim. On the KILT Protocol, there are many different types of claims expressing different attributes. But, these individual claims have no value without proper validation.
In our above-mentioned example, John is a claimer. He can create a claim stating that he is a data scientist. But, for a company looking to hire him, his claim alone is not enough. There needs to be someone to validate this claim and this is where attesters come into the picture.
Attesters are the players who are on top of this trust structure. Their role is to validate the claims of people, objects or businesses and provide certification by cryptographically signing the attestations. When a claim is attested, it becomes a credential that claimers can store in their wallets. Anyone can join the KILT Protocol, as an attester, to verify claims. This gives rise to new business opportunities, as attesters are paid in KILT tokens, by claimers, to verify their claims. They occupy the most important role, as they verify claims and certify claims that are valid. The more claims they attest, the more trusted they become within the network. However, falsely verifying claims could cost them their reputation and, eventually, their business.
While attesters have the right to verify claims, they have no right over the user’s credentials and cannot store their data by any means. Going back to our example, John can pay a fee to a trusted attester (a previous employer or university for example) to have his claim of being a data scientist verified. Once it is verified, he can store that credential in his wallet and present it to potential employers.
Verifiers are players who create a demand for credentials. Verifiers could be social media platforms or businesses providing some type of service to the claimer. The verifiers trust attesters to provide valid certifications and use that as a proof of identity that can be attached to a claimer. They have the power to choose the attesters they trust and are required to identify claimers through cryptographic challenges, thereby preventing the unauthorised use of user credentials. In John’s case, the verifier is a potential employer who can look at his credential to verify that he is indeed a data scientist.
This top-down structure of attesters, claimers and verifiers creates a robust trust system where user data is not exploited. Throughout this process, claimers are always in full control of their data and, if they have multiple credentials, they can choose which credentials they present to verifiers. For instance, John may have two credentials: one for being a data scientist and another for being from England. He can choose to present only the data scientist credential to the employer, while not revealing that he is from England. This way the KILT Protocol creates data sovereignty.
How the Blockchain Helps
As mentioned before, the KILT Protocol uses a blockchain network to carry out this process. This is simply because the blockchain is a decentralised ledger. On a blockchain network, information is not stored on a single centralised server, but on thousands of decentralised nodes. This makes it almost immune to hacks and data thefts.
The blockchain also makes it possible to revoke attestations in case of misuse or malpractice. On the KILT blockchain, the initial attestation is written as a hash. The attester who gives this attestation, also has the right to revoke it by revoking the hash. If this credential is then presented to a verifier, they can find out about its revoked status by simply checking the hash.
If executed well, KILT could build a webspace where trust becomes the most valuable commodity that everyone aspires to acquire.
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