Identity and the Metaverse: Decentralized control


“The metaverse” and “web3” are the buzzwords of the moment, whose concepts permeate the worlds of fintech, blockchain, and now even the mainstream media. With decentralization at the core of the Web3 metaverse, the promise of a better user experience, security and control for consumers is driving its growth. But with the unprecedented amount of data online, with the identity of users at the center of the metaverse, there are concerns over data security, privacy and interoperability. This has the potential to hinder the growth of the metaverse, but both regulated and self-sovereign identities can play an important role in ensuring that we truly own our identities and data within this new space.

related: Digital Sovereignty: Reclaiming Your Private Data in Web3


What is Metaverse?

Although the concept of Metaverse has been around for some time, it was recently brought into the limelight when Mark Zuckerberg decided to rename his company “Meta” (to the annoyance of many in the blockchain community!) earlier. With the digitization of many aspects of our lives ever since, many argue that the metaverse will impact everyone’s future, and it is set to significantly change the way we interact with technology.

It is widely disputed what the Metaverse would look like and be involved in, but it is considered a catch-all for many interpretations in which the Metaverse would replicate the physical world in a digital context and enable interactions similar to the ones we experience. . Daily Life. In theory, this would include augmented reality, the digital economy and Web3.

related: How NFT, DeFi and Web 3.0 are intertwined

inclusion and identity

The Metaverse presents endless opportunities for people and businesses in different sectors and with varying needs. It was recently stated that one of the biggest changes within the metaverse will be inclusion, meaning that anyone with access to the Internet will be able to access its benefits. This includes the 1 billion people around the world who are currently unbanked and eventually able to access the global economy through the metaverse.

In particular, digital identity will be at the core of the metaverse, ranging from digital avatars to the ability to automatically book a restaurant online to be customized using augmented reality. It will allow people of all genders, ages and backgrounds to express themselves in new ways and allow new types of interactions and communities to be created online. In this regard, some argue that it is considered a safer place for any person to thrive than in the real world. However, with more being stored online than ever before come concerns over trust and its privacy.

related: The maker economy will explode in the metaverse, but not under the rule of Big Tech

Decentralization of power and control

Blockchain technology using decentralized models will form the basis of Web3 and Metaverse, which are predicted to offer new levels of openness. Web2 is regarded by some as centralized tech companies that harvest users’ data, and the practice has received criticism due to surveillance and exploitative advertising. In contrast, Web3 would do the opposite, empowering everyone involved, with users being the owners of their digital assets, personal data and identities.

However, with such a large number of players involved in creating and maintaining the metaverse, there are concerns ranging from NFT creators and virtual reality and augmented reality producers as well as those creating vast amounts of sensitive information online. Whether users will actually have complete control over their credentials. We’ve already seen the potential for harm through Facebook’s data breach a few years ago, and Cointelegraph recently uncovered a Facebook whistle-blower who blamed the privacy of users’ information shared with Meta in the metaverse. have already expressed concern about

The importance of self-sovereign identity

However, forward-thinking tech companies are one step ahead of the game. Some of them have recognized the potential issue over controls and privacy and have started developing game-changing solutions to ensure decentralized control and security of users’ information. He believes the metaverse needs to be designed on open standards, with the self-sovereign identity (SSI) being the silver bullet in addressing trust within the metaverse.

SSIs are digital identities focused on verified and authenticated certificates linked to real-world verification data, such as biometrics, that are managed in a decentralized manner. Using blockchain technology and zero-knowledge proofs, users can self-manage their digital identities without relying on third parties to store and manage their data centrally. Most importantly, this information is permanently stored in a non-custodial wallet that is controlled by the user and temporarily accessed within the metaverse when the owner makes a decision. This verified data will give them access to and ownership of their assets just by being themselves, and is believed to fundamentally change the way that user owns and controls the data.

related: Self-detention, control and detection: how regulators got it wrong

What will be the role of regulation in this?

Nevertheless, many argue that regulation within the metaverse also needs to play an important role in giving both consumers and businesses the confidence to work in it and to ensure that their data and identities are protected.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey recently tweeted that he believes Web3 doesn’t necessarily wield the power of users in the way many predicted, as it would only take that power away from the government. and put it in the hands of the investing venture capitalists. Big tech companies like Blockchain, or Meta. And, for this reason, we need regulatory oversight.

Many believe that competing in the global digital and economic arenas would require countries to embrace the digital economy and the metaverse, but many of the existing regulations would require significant expansion to cover the metaverse. We have seen increasing government regulation of the crypto space over the years, ranging from an outright ban of crypto transactions in China to El Salvador adopting bitcoin as legal tender, but also in terms of identifying and controlling data in the metaverse. , there’s a long way to go. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK’s Data Protection Act can certainly play a role, but reform is needed if we are to effectively protect consumers and the data they provide .

related: New path to privacy after EU data regulation fails

It is clear that the metaverse will lead to seismic change, with this new system architecture likely to disrupt people, places and economies. There are also large levels of uncertainty surrounding the use of personal data, with the hope of a new and better experience for users addressing today’s issues. With the emergence of new technologies, a considerable amount of preparation and thought is needed to ensure that the metaverse develops in a way that benefits everyone involved, and with identity at its heart, these factors are more important than ever before. are more important.