With news that many are leaving Facebook or using it much less in the wake various controversies, this new essay from Second Life/High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale is particularly well-timed. Very briefly summarized, Philip is proposing that Internet users transition away from Facebook and other identity-oriented services toward a blockchain-based system for verifying identity:
Allowing Facebook (or any other company, for that matter) to own and control your identity on the Internet certainly isn’t safe, but fortunately, new technology means it also isn’t necessary. Using a public blockchain to store your identity, you can login just as easily to different places, can’t get hacked, and you stay in control of who knows what about you... In this new process, the ‘notary’ is the identity service, and the ‘registry’ is the public blockchain. This is a one-time thing, and the identity service can throw away the data after they inspect it for you. Several startups like uPort and Civic, as well as big companies like Microsoft and IBM are either building or have solutions. Note that the identity service isn’t the same service (social network, etc.) that you are ultimately going to be using, and therefore won’t know anything about which services you later use, or what you do there.
There's a lot more to this idea which I hope to delve deeper into soon. Before doing so, I'd recommend this recent VentureBeat post by Adam Frisby, raising serious concerns about blockchain, and Philip's response to those concerns.