Less Identity

I’m always on the lookout for better ways to express concisely the spirit and intent of what we are doing with identity. In keeping with digital disruption, transformation, etc., digital identity is the most au courant term but it is giving way to broader and more existential terms, such as Self-Sovereign Identity, Good Identity, and Better Identity.

Then it hit me — maybe it’s about Less Identity!

I arrived at the term ‘Less Identity’ through some fun wordplay (yes, I do this stuff in my spare time). I was thinking about ‘Trust Frameworks’ and ‘Trustless Networks.’ When I factored out the common ‘Trust’, I arrived at ‘Trust[Less Networks and Frameworks].

Looking at the word, ‘Less’ I said to myself ‘Hey — Less Identity!’ and then‘ Hey, Legally-Enabled Self-Sovereign Identity! That’s a catchy term’ (Please note: this was a fun exercise, not a rigorous academic mathematical exercise.)

Building on this: Legally-Enabled Self-Sovereign Identity or LESS Identity is a nice concise way to describe how I want my identity . I want my identity to be digital, good and better, but in the end, I want my identity to be less than the real me.

So then, the key characteristics of LESS Identity:

  • Minimum Disclosure: I want to disclose the absolute minimum to get a service or entitlement. If a service only needs to know I am legal to buy or receive something (because of age and/or residency) that’s all they should get — not my name, date-of-birth, or my address.
  • Full Control: I want full control over what I disclose. Not only at the point in time of the transaction, but all future uses that I may, or may not allow.
  • Necessary Proofs: I understand, that a someone might not believe what I am providing — that’s ok — I should be able to provide proofs from the right authority — my age as proven by my local government, my academic degree as proven by my university.
  • Legally-Enabled: All of the preceding requirements backed up by the necessary or applicable legal framework to protect me, and to protect those who are providing services to me (risk goes both ways in any transaction).

All summed up as (say it again!): Legally-Enabled Self-Sovereign or LESS Identity. Yeah, I know this all might sound a bit trite and catchy, but I believe the term really catches the spirit of the requirements we want our world. Just as Ann Cavoukian has captured the spirit of privacy in Privacy By Design, we capture the spirit of identity with LESS Identity.



Based in Ottawa. Does identity stuff. My tweets are my opinion but they can be yours too!

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tim Bouma

Tim Bouma


Based in Ottawa. Does identity stuff. My tweets are my opinion but they can be yours too!