Microsoft, ConsenSys & the Blockchain Tackle Human Rights 2

Microsoft is collaborating with ConsenSys and Blockstack Labs to work with a team of developers on the formation of a blockchain identity system that would enable authorities to track down both criminals and victims of human rights violations. These heinous crimes, which so often go unpunished, include forced prostitution, child abuse, and human trafficking.

At the recent United Nations ID2020 conference in New York, UN members as well as government agencies and private companies discussed the problem of global identity, or lack thereof. The goal of ID2020 is to find scalable identity solutions by 2020. The blockchain identity system was one of the proposed solutions.

According to the World Bank, a staggering amount of people (1.5 billion to be exact) do not have an officially recognized document to prove their identity. Most of these people live in the developing world, and now it is the developers who are trying to do something about it. It is precisely this lack of legal identification which makes children and other people invisible to society vulnerable to human rights crimes. It also delays the movement of refugees seeking asylum.

At ID2020, it was revealed that human trafficking accounts for a black market of $50 million USD annually. Worse, still, one of three known victims of human trafficking are children under the age of five. And that’s not taking into account the unknown victims. That’s where the blockchain technology comes into play. One of the calling cards of the blockchain is its transparency, making it a natural choice for an open-source, self-sovereign identity system.

ConsenSys has created the uPort Identity solution, which will be integrated with a reputation system called RepSys. Christian Lundkvist, the lead software architect of uPort noted,

“With this project we are taking a big step towards empowering people who suffer due to the lack of identity, as well as streamlining the fragmented identity systems in our modern society.”

Sam Cassatt, the chief strategist at ConsenSys, further added that the project “represents meaningful progress” and if successful would “enfranchise a significant portion of the global population that was previously disenfranchised.”

In the meantime, Microsoft intends to launch the open framework on its Azure cloud platform in the coming weeks to give developers a chance to build their own identity systems.