[EDITOR'S DRAFT] Motivation for Verifiable Claims Working Group Charter
The proposed mission of the Verifiable Claims Working Group is to make
expressing, exchanging, and verifying claims easier and more secure on the Web.
This document outlines the larger problem statement and goals that motivated the
creation of the Verifiable Claims Working Group charter proposal. The
Verifiable Claims Working Group Primer
is available for a more general overview of the proposed charter.
- verifiable claim
- A machine-readable statement made by an entity that is cryptographically authentic (non-repudiable).
- credential (aka attestation)
- A set of verifiable claims that refer to a qualification, achievement, personal quality, aspect of an identity such as a name, government ID, preferred payment processor, home address, or university degree typically used to indicate suitability.
- A design principle that strives to empower entities to reduce or eliminate being tracked, being correlated, and enables the subject to limit exposure of information to specific entities or specific periods of time.
- A design principle for verifiable claims where the holder of a verifiable claim is in complete control of their identifier, where their verifiable claims are stored, and how they are used.
There is currently no self-sovereign and privacy-enhancing standard
for expressing verifiable claims (aka: credentials, attestations)
via the Web.
These problems exist today:
There is no standard that makes it easy for users to assert their verifiable
qualifications to a service provider (e.g. my loyalty card number is X, I
have an account at Bank Y, I am over the age of 21, I am a citizen of the USA,
I am a Chartered Financial Analyst, etc.). As a result, manual input and
fraud on the Web are higher than desired.
In existing attribute exchange architectures (like SAML, OpenID Connect, Login
with SuperProviderX, etc.), users, and their verifiable claims, do not
independently exist from service providers. This means users can't easily
change their service provider without losing or fragmenting their digital
identity. This leads to vendor lock-in, identity fragility (duplication,
confusion, and inaccuracy), reduced competition in the marketplace, and
reduced privacy for all stakeholders.
There is no interoperable standard capable of expressing
verifiable claims that cuts across industries (e.g., finance, retail,
education, and healthcare). This leads to industry-specific solutions that
are costly, inefficient, proprietary, and inhibit users' ability to manage
their digital identities in a cohesive way.
Note that while the problem statement above is meant to provide the motivation
for the work, that the asserted scope of the proposed charter is more narrow,
focusing on the data model and syntax(es). Specifically, the scope has been
Asserting that new transaction protocols for verfiaible claims are out of scope.
Acknowledging that the creation of supporting infrastructure for self-sovereign
verifiable claims, other than data model and syntax(es), is out of scope.
Focusing the group on Working Group participant use cases which are expected
to center on the education and payments industries.
While the scope is narrow, the Working Group is also expected to not prevent
future work that may more fully address the Problem Statement.
If successful, the Recommendations from the Working Group will
increase some areas of interoperability between the entities that issue,
store, and inspect verifiable claims.
The first goal is to create a standard way for users to assert their verifiable
qualifications to a service provider, producing benefits such as:
Enhancing website usability by removing the need to manually enter
Improving the detection of fraud, such as false claims and identity theft, by
establishing a standard way to cryptographically verify 3rd party claims
with respect to the identified
The second goal is to ensure that users and their claims can be independent
from service providers, producing benefits such as:
Improving operational efficiency, by reducing operating costs (for example),
for verifiable claim issuers and inspectors as a result of a common set of
technology for expressing and verifying claims.
Reducing vendor lock-in by ensuring that verifiable claims are portable from
one claims repository to another.
Enhancing some aspects of privacy and unlinkability for the subject of a
The third goal is to ensure that there is an interoperable standard capable of
expressing verifiable claims that cuts across at least two industries,
producing benefits such as:
Reusability of the machine-readable language that expresses verifiable
claims (aka vocabularies) so that a single vocabulary
may suit the needs of a broader set of stakeholders, and
Extensibility of the vocabularies so that a particular industry vertical may
build extensions on top of existing vocabularies to suit their
Composability of verifiable claims to express an aspect of one's identity in
a granular way.
The standardized technologies will, to the extent to which it is
technically feasible, level the playing field for verifiable claims so
that small actors or individuals can make use of the technology on the
same basis as larger corporations, government, or institutions, without
undue or unnecessary barriers.
For more background information about the work, please see
the FAQ. There are also a set of
focused use cases that are suggested as input to the group.
The proposed charter details the first step in
making progress toward the problem statement and goals outlined above.