Federated Trust, as it is currently implemented, is trust that the technology we use to communicate with others does what it is meant to do.  This is trust in the technology, not human trust. In the search for efficiency we exclude complex humans and replace them with simple credentials.  However technology has advanced to allow more complex credentials that better represent humans and includes human trust as an integral part of the system. We do this using the Internet of Things and by giving individuals access to the transactions in which they are involved. 

Federated Trust and Electronic Identity systems are systems for organisations not for people. They allow organisations to be confident in the credentials of individuals passed between organisations.

We can increase the utility of Federated systems if each individual is made part of the Federation and is equal to organisations. An individual can then prove to themselves that their electronic identity has not been compromised and incorrect transactions have not been made in their name. This builds human trust into the system.

Once we allow the individual into the Federated Identity system the individual can build their own Trust Network.  The individual does this because the system can remember and link past transactions across multiple organisations.  Some call this memory of transactions a personal cloud.  The totality of memories across many parties becomes a person’s electronic identity in which the person can trust. 

It doesn’t matter where the memories are held. What matters is that the individual can access them and can be confident that they are correct.

Privacy is critical to building human trust in the memory of transactions.  A person needs to know that others cannot spy on their transactions and build false memories of transactions in their name. 

At Welcomer we are building ways for an individual to create their own trusted personal electronic memory of transactions.  This is also the idea behind the IDcubed project at MIT. The project website has a video that explains the idea. Another way of describing it is that an individual builds their own electronic identity from their past transaction behaviour.

Welcomer technology enables a person to build their own personal electronic memory using an Internet of Things.  

Verifier from InFactDecisions is using Welcomer Technology to provide a way for an individual to gather trusted memories of past income transactions.  These past memories of income are passed to a prospective lender so the lender can assess whether a loan is likely to be repaid. 

In traditional loan applications an organisation asks the person to regenerate their income history piece by piece and tell the organisation where the information is stored. The organisation then gathers this information and assesses its validity.

With Verifier the lender tells the borrower what is needed to verify their income. The borrower then searches their trusted electronic memory of transactions and supplies the information required.  With Verifier the person does the work of gathering the information and its validity.  With Verifier the borrower only has to reveal relevant information to the lender. This leads to privacy friendly loan applications and increases the trust in the information supplied. With Verifier information entered previously by different applications, like  a pay system, can be reused. This reduces the amount of effort for a borrower and reduces the chance of incorrect information being transmitted.

Governments could use this same process for border control by telling people what is needed for entry and for the person to then present that information from their electronic memories that they have built themselves. 

This system would be built on top of existing physical electronic passport infrastructure as an alternative. There would be no need for any agreement on how to identify a person or any form of standard or centralised credential.  What is needed is a trusted way for a person to recall their electronic memories as they move around the world and for each individual government to decide what history of transactions they require to allow entry.

An identity created by a government for its citizens (which identifies their bodies to the government), will not enjoy the same enthusiastic uptake as an identity created by a person for their own use.



One thought on “Federated Trust and Electronic Identity

  1. Hey kevin

    I really dig this post about trusted user electronic memory. It’s really important that a user creates his own history for personal use as opposed to leaving it to the government to create a personal history for you. It seems like you deal with a allot of complex ideas every day in your work/business and it must be a hard to convey nuanced truths to the public.

    One of the things in my business is that we take fairly complex ideas like the one you’ve presented here and we simplify it condense it and visualize it in a way that’s more engaging and compelling to the general masses

    Looking forward to more great content.



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