Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)

Critical Need
This project addresses challenges associated user control over their personal data and the authentication of users across multiple and diverse platforms.  The research is set in the context of a contract tracing application and challenges. Contact tracing apps use mobile devices to keep track of and promptly identify those who come in contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. However, privacy is a major obstacle to the wide-spread use of such apps since users are concerned about sharing their contact and diagnosis data. This research overcomes multiple challenges facing contact tracing apps: (1) As researchers have pointed out, there is a need to balance contact tracing effectiveness with the amount of user identity and diagnosis information shared. (2) No matter what information the user chooses to share, the app should safeguard the privacy of user information. (3) On the other hand, some essential test result information must be shared for the contact tracing app to work. While contact tracing apps have done a good job maintaining contact information on the user’s device, most such apps publish positive COVID-19 test results to a central server which have some risks for compromise. (4) Finally, following the spirit of privacy and in the absence of significant collection of user information, the app must innovate new methods to identify deliberate false reports of COVID-19.

Research Program Abstract
The UT CID addresses these challenges by (1) giving the user the right to choose how much information to share about their diagnosis and their identity, (2) developing Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) innovations to assure privacy preserving user authentication with verifiable credentials, (3) decentralizing the storage of COVID-19 test results, and (4) incorporating innovative fraud detection methods with limited user information. The UT CID Privacy-preserving Contact Tracing (PpCT) app, leverages Self-Sovereign Identity advances based on the blockchain for 5G networks.  

Potential Impact
For the UT CID Privacy-preserving Contact Tracing (PpCT) app as well as a multitude of other applications, this research offers the following innovations:

   Innovation #1:  Giving user control over personal data while guaranteeing the appropriate levels of assurance for user authentication

   Innovation #2:  Combining security and convenience.

   Innovation #3:  Scaling trust frameworks to enable trusted identities across organizations, platforms and transactions.