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Web 3.0 and “Self-Sovereign Identity”

As the World Wide Web continues to evolve, it gets closer and closer to the highly anticipated Web 3.0 — the next iteration of the Internet, focusing mostly on web decentralization. While Web 3.0 will bring major benefits and changes in its wake, few will be as important or positive for the world as self-sovereign identity.

This article will discuss self-sovereign identity, how it might work, and the use cases it might see once Web 3.0 takes off.

What is Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)?

Self-sovereign identity is — for now — a theoretical type of online identity that will leverage various Web 3.0 technologies and principles to give users total control over their personal information.

Right now, people have to log into multiple platforms and provide personal information to use key services like Facebook or Google. In the future, once Web 3.0 is fully realized, this will no longer be necessary. Instead, users will fully own their identities online, including all the information comprising those identities. Only the owner of an identity will be able to have hold of it and determine who gets to see that personal information.

At the time of this writing, there are three major standards of self-sovereign identity:

There are already many identity theft protection tools that people can turn to help keep their identities and data safe. The best identity theft protection tools will come with security measures such as identity monitoring, fast fraud alerts, and digital security tools such as email aliases and VPNs for protecting user data across their devices and network. SSI serves as an additional method for ensuring user privacy. 

In essence, SSI will be a user-centric, user-controlled approach that enables people to exchange their digital identity information safely, securely, and quickly. Even better, users will be able to input their personal identities across various Web 3.0 platforms and services without having to make many separate accounts.

Hedgehog king showing off how his blockchain will lead to SSI

How will Web 3.0 lead to SSI?

The development of SSI is predicated on the eventual arrival of Web 3.0: the next iteration of the World Wide Web. As Web 3.0 continues to develop, users will overcome many common limits impacting how we use the Internet today.

For example, with the full implementation of Web 3.0 principles, users will have control over their personal data, minimizing the likelihood of careless data sharing or exploitation by third parties like big businesses. More importantly, Web 3.0 will decentralize the Internet. A few large corporations will no longer control all of the news and social media people consume. Instead, the Internet will be spread across all major terminals and computers connected to it.

Let’s dig into the benefits of SSI a bit further.

Horns announcing the benefits of SSI

Why Self-Sovereign Identity could change the Internet

Once self-sovereign identities are possible and realized online, it’s likely that several big advantages and benefits will follow shortly after that.

Enhanced user privacy and security

For starters, users will benefit from much greater privacy and security. With SSI, users will no longer need to store their personal information on centralized databases. They’ll have much more control over personal info, who can access it, and how that data gets shared between individuals or companies.

Similarly, the fact that self-sovereign identities will be stored on a decentralized, blockchain-like database means they will be much more defensible against malware and other attacks. Identity theft might become all but impossible, as any stolen information would be unverifiable across the blockchain network’s terminals and users.

Faster, simpler onboarding

Right now, it’s tiring and repetitive signing up for multiple accounts across websites or platforms. But with self-sovereign identities, simpler and faster onboarding will become the norm.

Instead of having to register and sign up with different login credentials each time, plus keeping many different passwords in mind, users will just have to remember one password for the SSI digital wallet under their name. That digital wallet will act as proof of identity, enabling them to sign in to decentralized Web services quickly and easily.

Note that this also benefits security. Since users won’t have to manage or remember many passwords, they also won’t have to worry about those passwords being lost by accident or stolen in the future.

No third-party control

Perhaps most importantly, the rise of self-sovereign identities will eliminate third-party control over your personal data. Big companies like Facebook and Google won’t have control over what data is shared and with whom you share your personal information. That’s because a decentralized self-sovereign identity system provider will only know what data is being exchanged but nothing else. High-level encryption will prevent unnecessary and potentially exploitable snooping.


Lastly, Web 3.0 and self-sovereign identification systems will be essentially hack-proof and immune to many common digital attacks. Cryptography — as well as the decentralized nature of any blockchain network — will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for hackers to steal user data through any traditional means.

The challenges of SSI

Although self-sovereign identity will provide important advantages for most Internet users, it will also come with some potential challenges.

For example, balancing the need for privacy and security could be difficult. Giving users total control over their private information also means they will be responsible for securing their own data instead of putting it in the hands of security experts. In the short term, it might lead to more instances of identity fraud as people learn how to protect themselves online.

Furthermore, SSI will be decentralized by definition. That can make it tough for governments to verify whether an individual’s identity is authentic or legitimate. In certain instances, like when accessing government sites and services or conducting big transactions, that could be problematic and require additional security verification steps.

Royal proclamation for how SSI could be used in the future

How might people use SSI in the future?

There are lots of potential use cases for self-sovereign identity systems. These include:

Metaverse access

Right now, the Metaverse isn’t really the interconnected digital universe that it has always been imagined to be. Instead, it’s a lot of separate, siloed digital ecosystems and game platforms. But once Web 3.0 takes off, the Metaverse will be fully realized, and, more importantly, your self-sovereign identity will be transferable between different platforms and worlds.

Gaming opportunities

This touches on another potential use case: video games and purchases. Web 3.0 games might take advantage of a version of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to capture the security uniqueness of different digital assets, like your online identity or digital avatar. With a transferable SSI, you’ll be able to leap between different games while keeping items, progress, and much more — it will certainly lead to a new era of online gaming.

Crypto payments and DeFi

Of course, you can’t forget how self-sovereign identities will impact the cryptocurrency sphere and decentralized finance. People will be able to make crypto payments even more securely than before, which is particularly important for large-volume payments and transactions.

Meanwhile, SSI is the ideal identity layer to keep anonymity with decentralized finance actions and services. In the long run, this might have spillover effects on the big banks and world economy outside the Internet. In the future, people might not even use big banks to store their currencies and take control of their finances instead as they buy, sell, and trade across the Web 3.0 Internet.

Other uses

In addition to those use cases, self-sovereign identity will also become highly important in Web 3.0 e-commerce, business, social media, and healthcare. Here are just a few examples of how SSI will affect these industries:

  • Web 3.0 customers will be able to shop across various e-commerce stores without making individual accounts. SSI will also increase payment security by allowing customers to control their data and reduce the need to share sensitive information. 
  • From a business perspective, SSI will reduce the amount of personal data stored, minimizing privacy risks and potential data breaches. Additionally, self-sovereign identity will allow businesses to securely verify and authenticate their customers, ensuring accurate invoicing and billing and reducing the risks of fraud. 
  • In terms of social media improvements, everyone may have one singular social media profile shared across all major platforms. Not only will this reduce instances of identity fraud, but it may also enable individuals to escape social media stalking since all private information, like phone numbers and addresses, will be controllable by those who own that information.
  • SSI may even have ramifications for the healthcare industry. Patients will have greater control over their private medical information, meaning they will be able to determine what information about medical treatments and prescriptions they will share with their healthcare providers. In addition, medical patients won’t be at as high a risk of identity theft as they are currently.

Is the world ready for SSI?

Self-sovereign identity is an integral part of the inevitable Web 3.0 evolution, even if perhaps we’re not quite ready for what it represents. It’s also good for privacy rights and data control for individuals. While we can’t say when self-sovereign identities will become the norm, we can predict with certainty that they will eventually become the best means possible for average individuals to interact with the Web.

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Gary Stevens avatar

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is a web developer and technology writer. He's a part-time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor. More articles written by Gary.

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