Posted on Feb 14, 2022Read on Mirror.xyz

DAO and Identity

What is an Identity

Any aspect or feature of an individual that is used by any other individual, organization or application can be an identity. Name, email address, phone number, wallet address and various other personally identifiable information are various identities that represent an individual.

In the digital world it is magnified many fold because of the metadata and user behaviour acquisition by the massive applications of today.

All online accounts which contain usernames, purchasing behaviour, personal data, search activity, medical history, digital identifiers and more combine to provide an incredibly precise profile of each and every one of us.

Identity types


A federated identity in information technology is the means of linking a person's electronic identity and attributes, stored across multiple distinct identity management systems. Centralized identity management solutions were created to help deal with user and data security where the user and the systems they accessed were within the same network. In this scenario all the data resides with the organisation or the application managing the identity and related information and all of it is usually located at one place.

Self Sovereign

Self-sovereign identity (SSI) is an approach to digital identity that gives individuals control of their digital identities. It is generally recognized that for an identity system to be self-sovereign, users control the verifiable credentials that they hold and their consent is required to use those credentials. In an SSI system, holders generate and control unique identifiers called decentralized identifiers. Most SSI systems are decentralized, where the credentials are managed using crypto wallets and verified using public-key cryptography anchored on a distributed ledger blockchain.

In the digital world a person can have several identities depending on who they are interacting with. Pinning that digital person to a physical human is at times impossible, especially in decentralized systems. While this anonymous approach has its benefits in terms of privacy, it also leads to certain challenges when it comes to governance. Simplest example is of a person posing as thousands of different people and voting for a proposal which they want to sway in a particular direction.

There is also the challenge of accountability, as there is no real person mapped to a digital identifier, who is to be held accountable in case something happens.

Why is identity important for DAOs

A DAO is a self-governing organization that is managed by rules encoded in computer programs called "smart contracts." The transaction history and programmed rules of a DAO are stored on a blockchain, which boosts transparency and immutability of DAO.

There is a strong relationship between DAOs and verifiable credentials because a well-run DAO should function as a transparent platform that allows users to retain control over their personal data and identities.

The benefits of verifiable credentials provide to DAO are:

  • Verifiable Credentials are strictly confidential.
  • They are tamper-proof due to the use of encryption.
  • It is transportable-Verifiable Credentials are yours to keep in your wallet and distribute as you like.

Verifiable Credentials and Self-Sovereign Identity rely on two levels of privacy protection: Zero-Knowledge Proof and Selective Privacy, which enable members of a DAO to demonstrate that their data meet particular criteria without disclosing the actual facts.

Current Identity platforms



iden3 is a next-generation private access control based on self-sovereign identity, designed for decentralised and trust-minimised environments

Proof of humanity

Proof of Humanity, or Proof of Identity, is a humanity or social identity verification system for humans developed on the Ethereum blockchain with collaboration from Kleros and Democracy Earth. It is a system and a dApp that combines social verification with the sending of videos or images to create a list/registry of verified human identities and therefore resistant to Sybil attacks.


BrightID allows people to prove to applications that they’re only using one account. A BrightID is like a social security number or other government identifier that helps you qualify to receive benefits. Unlike a government identifier, it offers online security, privacy, and protection of your personal data.

Paid / Enterprise


Evernym is the creator of Sovrin, a platform for every person, organization, and connected thing to have an independent identity that enables trusted peer-to-peer interaction on a global scale. In 2016, the company invented the Sovrin Network, the first and only public ledger specifically built for identity. With the invention of Sovrin and the use of distributed ledger technology, Evernynm was able to store and verify digital credentials in a decentralized manner and give consumers sole control over their online existence.


Selfkey is a network of certifiers and enterprises who give their users the control over their private data; their Identity wallet can be used to hold multiple identity certificates and crypto assets. The roadmap includes a marketplace for passport, residency, bank accounts, notary and loans along with many other services focused towards businesses

Why is it so complex

In a digital decentralized world where there is no single person or organization accountable for a users’ personal data, it becomes increasingly difficult to securely save and manage users' data. If it is in a single location there are risks of it being misused for malicious purposes and if it is decentralized it can be difficult to access when required or if it is saved on a public blockchain there need to be sufficient encryption and access control measures in place to prevent the misuse of the data.

Self sovereign identity can be one of the solutions but it requires the users to completely own and manage their personal identity information which many users may find overwhelming. Also the tech part of it in the form of 0 knowledge proof is a significant overhead computationally in its current state

Road ahead

In case DAOs identity is important from the aspect of one human one vote, this paired with reputation will allow DAOs to value contribution in the sense it matters for the DAO and just as a statistic or a checklist. DAOs are exploring how they can identify and value their members’ contributions in a fair manner, even if it means building new applications or adopting new mechanisms for members to interact and collaborate with each other.