As Web 3.0 continues to receive media attention, ushering in a new age of online navigation, many of the core principles of this system routinely rise into discussion. One of these is identification, with Web 3.0 moving away from continuous data-sharing in favor of a private system where users have more control over their own data.
Reflecting both the technological and philosophical shift into Web 3.0, these dramatic changes point toward how effective this system could be for users in the future. Within this article, we’ll be exploring how digital identities exist within the Web 3.0 ecosystem, demonstrating how they’re shifting and what users can expect.
Let’s get right into it.
What is Web 3.0?
Acting as the third iteration of the internet as we know it, Web 3.0 is a term that encompasses the technological improvements that usher us into a new phase of the internet. Yet, there are also philosophical developments, with ideas about user data, ownership, and privacy also shifting as we move into this new digital age.
Breaking it down, the internet began with Web 1.0 in 1989, which was about accessing (or reading) information online. You couldn’t interact with this information, only really using the internet to find pages and read what was on them.
After technology advanced, Web 2.0 began in 2004, bringing with it sites where users could both read and interact. This content-creation system would become known as social media, with users having increased communication, exposure to marketing, and content creation opportunities. This was also the rise of data, with information rising to become a market worth billions of dollars. In fact, the big data industry is expected to reach $273.6 billion by 2026, demonstrating the extent to which data has become monetized around the globe.
Following these changes, Web 3.0 is the next advancement in the internet, bringing with it more control for users, different privacy rules, and ownership over content created online. Web 3.0 relies on new technologies, like blockchain, as well as different systems in place that give users more power than ever before.
In some ways, Web 3.0 can be understood as a direct retaliation against Web 2.0, with the practices that made digital companies like Facebook rich being scowled upon by the creators. Instead of taking user data and selling it, Web 3.0 is about giving every single user the tools to own and monetize their own data.
Part of data generation is simply existing online, with Web 3.0’s reliance on the anonymity that blockchain affords giving users an element of continual privacy online.
How does identity work within Web 3.0?
Within a system that prioritizes privacy, digital identity must function in a distinct way. That’s why Web 3.0 has moved toward using Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), which is a distinct form of identification that gives users more control over their own identity online.
Instead of storing information about a user on a centralized database, the individual themselves are the ones that have ownership over their identity, it is connected to their digital wallet. With this, when they attempt to access a site, they are able to control the extent to which their data is shared.
The SSI strategy directly aligns with two pillars of Web 3.0: data control and decentralization. Instead of Web 2.0 industries farming user data, the individual can directly retain control, giving them a basis of data security that was previously unavailable to them. Equally, instead of relying on centralized databases, Web 3.0 allows users to foster peer-to-peer exchanges of data, with their own information stored in a decentralized location that they have control of.
What are the benefits of this system of storing data?
Moving away from centralized storage has many benefits for users, creating a system where they naturally have more power and control over what they share online. Many of the benefits of this data system are also reflected in the wider use of Web 3.0 as a whole.
Typically, by moving to a self-sovereign identity, you can expect:
- Increased security
Let’s break these down further.
Data privacy is the foundational pillar upon which digital identity is built within Web 3.0 Not only will users have direct ownership of their data, but they will also automatically have a range of systems in place to keep their data private. A huge part of this comes back to cryptography, with this system of sealing accounts being considerably harder to crack than traditional password security.
Equally, as Web 3.0 continues to grow, a range of different companies are pushing forward the extent to which privacy can serve these communities. One of these companies, KILT, is a decentralized identity protocol that helps to give everyone that uses these systems a unique digital identity identification.
Initially, users are assigned a DID, standing for a decentralized identifier, which acts as a string of numbers and letters that uniquely defines a person. This number allows them to interact with systems while remaining completely anonymous, with their code being unique to them.
From there, KILT allows users to create their web3name, which allows them to choose their unique name. Once chosen, they can use this easily-recognizable username string system to connect with others, fostering peer-to-peer connections within the Polkadot chain.
With this, identification is boosted on Web 3.0 without giving up any of the elements that make it so effective, like anonymity, ownership, and total privacy. In short, KILT takes what’s best about Web 3.0 and then creates a more convenient and familiar access system for users.
Digital marketing is a massive field, with the largest companies in the world using their extensive networks to actively farm customer data. In many cases, this data can then be sold or exchanged, resulting in huge benefits for both parties. The only one that’s left out of this profitable deal is the user themselves, with the data they generate being taken from them.
It’s estimated that even just an email address is worth, on average, $89 to a brand. This is because email acts as a way to directly advertise to that person, placing a brand’s products in front of them and potentially triggering a sale of their product.
While this is the foundation of Web 2, it’s something that will radically shift as notions of ownership within digital identity equally begin to shift. Within Web 3.0, users will have complete ownership of their own data. Due to this, they have more power to directly sell their information to companies, cutting out the middlemen while also giving a more informationally useful form of data.
Instead of farming third-party data based on interactions, when users have direct ownership of their data and cut out the middle man, they can give what’s known as ‘Zero-party’ data to these companies. With an increase in ownership of someone’s own digital identity comes a whole range of potentially profitable avenues of pursuit.
Every single year, millions of digital records are stolen in data breaches, leading to businesses around the globe accidentally exposing their customer records. In fact, over 45% of US businesses have experienced a data breach at some point, demonstrating the extent to which data that’s supposedly protected by companies isn’t actually all that safe.
Within centralized data storage systems, private documents and profiles are kept on one large database. While this database has a range of cyber defense mechanisms, if they are disabled or defeated, millions of records can be exposed. This is exactly what happens with data breaches, with the mistake of one company being enough to expose potentially hundreds of thousands of customer details.
As we move to a decentralized system, like the one exemplified through Web 3.0, every single person is awarded much more control over their own data. Instead of having personal data protected within a database, your information is directly linked to your own digital wallet. Due to this, internet safety becomes much more of an individual pursuit.
Instead of hacking one database and exposing millions of records, the instant benefit of hacking is reduced for those with nefarious intentions. As if they were to gain access to a user’s wallet and digital identity, which is highly unlikely, they would only be receiving information for that singular person.
With less of a motive to commit cybercrimes when it comes to data, the mass movement to Web 3.0 would likely result in an impressive reduction in data theft.
Web 3.0 is going to usher in an exciting new age in user-based creation. Not only does this shifting technological and philosophical sphere boast an impressive level of security and privacy, but the fact users will own all content they post further demonstrates the shifting ideologies at play.
Moving away from tech giants that capitalize on user data and returning the power back to those users, Web 3.0 is an exciting step in the progression of the internet. By using tools like KILT that help users interact with this new system in a way that’s familiar, more people will be able to get on board, significantly speeding up the process of this industry.
With anonymity and choice first, identity in Web 3.0 is personal, user-controlled, and most of all, private.