All the internet users today would’ve come across the one click login solutions for websites. The icons shown below certainly make the lives of the users easier to an extent.
Imagine a world without these one click login on applications. Although logging into each website individually provides security benefits and prevents honeypotting, but the utility of the applications is significantly decreased in such scenarios. The convenience of a user lies in a simple click login, which saves him or her from all the fuss of agreeing to privacy policies and proving their identities etc. Websites like Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Apple have made their monopolies in the market to an extent that even if we disagree with their privacy policies, we can’t do much. Accepting their offers is the only way to survive on the centralized web. Facebook recently admitted that they use the data collected by their auths to track down the activities of a certain user on applications for better monetization experiences even when the user is offline. This raises a point to ponder, that is it only Facebook who uses their Auths to track down user data or are the other market makers a part of this sinister activity too? The simple inclination goes towards the pessimist aspect. With the market makers all involved in tracking down user data, the question rises that are we too helpless to use these auths and give away our data like that, or do we have a choice relating to our privacy, that we choose whether to show our data to a particular platform or not?
The answer lies in blockchain. The technology has made its name globally for the transparency and security that it provides. Blockchain auths allows the users to create and manage their own identities, this process is called self-sovereign identity. The user decides what to put in private keys, what data can be accessed by the applications and what terms are to be followed, the user dictates it all. The security and privacy levels of the users remain intact in such a scenario, and undoubtedly, the privacy experience of a user on the internet can be taken on a whole different level. Imagine experience of the internet where the need for centralized auths is eliminated, exciting, isn’t it?
Platforms providing decentralized auths
People from the blockchain industry have identified the problem and are working on startups that provide the users with decentralized Auths. One of the pioneers is Blockstack. Blockstack is one of the platforms that provide the users with the luxury of one click logins.
One of the innovation that blockstack brought is the provision of a browser or portal that gives the user the access to everything on the decentralized web. Much like Torr, that opens doors for the dark web, Blockstack is the window into the decentralized web. To ensure more security, Blockstack uses its own DNS servers, which are more or less ‘unhackable’, unlike the traditional DNS. Although they have a new decentralized DNS, they use the same traditional TCP/IP layer for operation. This new internet protocol can also be used to keep your data on cloud storage infrastructures like Dropbox and Google drive etc. Let’s take a look into the auth provided by Blockstack.
Blockstack eliminates the need for the 3rd party auth providers as it has its own identity system. Blockstack asks you to register a new identity on their platform (Based on Bitcoin blockchain), much like any other auth provider. Once you’re done with registering your identity, the identity can be used on all the applications built on blockstack. You take care of what to keep in your private keys and what information can be accessed by the applications.
The good news is that Blockstack has announced iOS and Android Developer SDKs which would allow all the applications built on top of Blockstack to be used by android and iOS users. Although blockstack has not yet been approved by Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp, this opens room for social networks to be opened on the platform that would provide more privacy protection and would allow users to put content on the platform which could let them earn through stack tokens and the platform wouldn’t use their content for revenue generation.
There are other players of the market too which are muscling their way into making a name for themselves in the market of decentralized Auths. Coinbase recently also showed its concerns with user privacy and the provision of Auths. They envison to provide the users with a self-sovereign identity where they would dictate the privacy policies and decide what data to show to the apps and what to keep private. These private keys can be used to verify the identity of a user by barely giving away any other information other than the user’s age.
Coinbase and Blockstack are taking positive steps to protect user identity and the way a user interacts with the internet, however, the question that lies is that how would these companies be able to build products on top of their security system and how would they be able to commercialize their authentication processes as they are indeed the future of secure verification and protection of a user’s privacy. Being users, our topmost priority is the provision of security which naturally puts our hopes into such decentralized solutions.