Genuine Personal Identifiers and Mutual Sureties for Sybil-Resilient Community Formation

Gal Shahaf, Ehud Shapiro, Nimrod Talmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While most of humanity is suddenly on the net, the value of this singularity is hampered by the lack of credible digital identities: Social networking, person-to-person transactions, democratic conduct, cooperation and philanthropy are all hampered by the profound presence of fake identities, as illustrated by Facebook's removal of 5.4Bn fake accounts since the beginning of 2019. Here, we introduce the fundamental notion of a \emph{genuine personal identifier}---a globally unique and singular identifier of a person---and present a foundation for a decentralized, grassroots, bottom-up process in which every human being may create, own, and protect the privacy of a genuine personal identifier. The solution employs mutual sureties among owners of personal identifiers, resulting in a mutual-surety graph reminiscent of a web-of-trust. Importantly, this approach is designed for a distributed realization, possibly using distributed ledger technology, and does not depend on the use or storage of biometric properties. For the solution to be complete, additional components are needed, notably a mechanism that encourages honest behavior and a sybil-resilient governance system.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2019


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