Welcome to the next generation of the internet: the Metaverse, a new virtual space where people can meet to socialize, work, shop, play and more. The Metaverse has the potential to dramatically change the way we interact virtually.
We do not yet know how this space will evolve and what it will look like in several years, but we already know that its impact on our personal and professional lives will not be negligible. A recent study by analyst firm Gartner indicates that more than 25% of Internet users worldwide will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse by 2026.
Data exchange will play a major role in participation in the Metaverse. As we consider the commercial and personal applications (and implications) of the Metaverse, it is also important to consider how best to manage privacy and user data security issues in this new space.
People are more data aware than ever before, but this will take new clarity and focus in the Metaverse. The maturity of the Metaverse is an opportunity to bring to the fore an already emerging concept, that of decentralized identities. Decentralized identity systems not only give consumers more control over their personal data, but also address data breach risks and regulatory challenges.
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Your identity in the Metaverse
Identity is at the heart of the digital space. Almost all of us already have a digital identity, made up of many data points. Whether it’s personal banking, online shopping, social media information, or map usage, all of this data is what we can think of as our identity in the online world.
People are fiercely protective of what they consider their external digital identity – and rightly so. A spoofer who hijacks someone’s social media profile, for example, and posts derogatory or insulting content can ruin their victim’s professional and personal reputation. Similarly, a person can build a positive reputation by carefully controlling the content that may be searched for about them online.
However, in the Metaverse, our digital identities and the breadth and depth of what we share are about to be taken to another level. Our data is the new currency of this space. Information about who we are and what we do can be shared with businesses, retailers, brands and others, in a manner similar to how today’s technology platforms share data, but on a significantly larger scale. big. So how can this new digital ecosystem guarantee the confidentiality and data protection of its users? And what happens to our identity online?
Decentralized Identity Systems and the Metaverse
Today, the digital identities we create and use in our Internet activity are not the property of the individual, but rather the centralized property of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. However, when we consider the next stage of digital identity with the development of the Metaverse, keeping centralized identities in this current form is simply too limiting and carries too many risks.
The solution then is to move towards decentralized identities, which allow each user to have greater control over their personal data, including their storage, ownership and control. Decentralized identities are a trust framework in which identifiers, such as usernames, are replaced with identification tokens belonging to the user (for example via a digital wallet). These credentials are shared using blockchain and a distributed ledger to protect privacy and enable more secure transactions.
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Initiatives such as Tim Berners-Lee’s SOLID are already gaining momentum and being tested by large organizations in different sectors (media, health…), allowing people to store their data securely in data spaces units called “Pods”. These “Pods” of local servers allow you to control a user’s digital identity: all personal information belongs to you, you decide how it is shared and for how long, and you retain the right to revoke access to the data at any time. moment. Regulation and culture change.
Right now, data and metaverse regulation is still in its infancy, but just look at personal data protection regulations such as GDPR and recent data privacy lawsuits. data to know that regulation is inevitable. Decentralized identity systems offer a way to anticipate this regulation and, if widely adopted, help the Metaverse thrive as a safe online space.
According to Forrester, “ Decentralized Digital IDentity is not just a tech buzzword: it promises a complete overhaul of the currently centralized physical and digital identity ecosystem into a decentralized and democratized architecture. »
To this end, one must think about the change in culture and mentality that could result from a wider adoption of decentralized digital identity. Consumers agree to some level of data sharing in exchange for access to services, of course. However, a better understanding of the nature and amount of data shared, stored and exchanged will undoubtedly lead to more attentive consumers and better protected data.
Decentralized identity systems are already emerging around the world. And fortunately, much of the technology and systems already exist. However, at the dawn of a hyperconnected internet space, they will have a revolutionary impact by giving consumers greater control and ownership over their digital identities and personal data. Just as decentralized platforms, such as blockchain, have transformed finance over the past decade, they will also transform identity in the new digital era.
Tribune by Chris Lloyd-Jones, Head of Open Technologies at Avanade.