The Digital Identity Standards To Bet On In 2021

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Author’s note: This is the sole opinion of the author and may be revised at any time. The views and positions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of the author’s employer nor any involved organizations, committees, or working groups.

If someone were to ask me: “What are the standards you are betting on for 2021?”, this would be my answer:

There are hundreds of ‘digital identity’ standards out there. I have winnowed down the list to three — two technical standards and one non-technical standard:

  1. for a new type of identifier that enables verifiable, decentralized digital identity. A DID identifies any subject (e.g., a person, organization, thing, data model, abstract entity, etc.) that the controller of the DID decides that it identifies.
  2. a standardized specification that provides a mechanism to express credentials on the Web in a way that is cryptographically secure, privacy-respecting, and machine-verifiable.
  3. specifies minimum requirements and a set of controls for creating and maintaining trust in digital systems and services that, as part of an organization’s mandate, assert and or consume identity and credentials in data pertaining to people and Organizations.

Admittedly, I am writing this for the Canadian context (as the third choice is Canadian-only, so insert your own national or international standard here), but the main reasons I have chosen these three is because they represent a new way forward to develop a digital ecosystem that is open, inclusive, and balanced in favour towards the individual.

I realize that there are many more standards at play, but it is my belief that it is these three that will enable trusted digital identity across many ecosystems — across industries and across political boundaries.

That’s my start for 2021!




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

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Tim Bouma

Tim Bouma

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

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