Civic Is Turning Identity.com Into a Crypto-Powered Personal Data Market
“I never thought we’d get it.”
That’s Vinny Lingham, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain identity startup Civic, talking about the company’s acquisition of “Identity.com” – a fitting web domain for a company built around the idea of putting personally identifiable data in the control of its owners.
To that point, Lingham said he had always thought Identity.com would be an ideal address from which to promote the platform he is building.
Civic raised $33 million in a token sale last year as part of an effort build a decentralized infrastructure for third parties to make attestations about individuals.
Even with those resources, the domain was valuable internet real estate. It was previously controlled by a company named Inflection, which dates back to 2006, according to Crunchbase.
At first, the domain seemed out of reach, given that it was controlled by an established business. But all that changed when Civic learned that the firm had made the decision to call it quits on that line of business.
“It was very opportunistic and we lucked out for sure,” Lingham said.
As a condition of the sale, Lingham couldn’t reveal any more about the negotiations or the amount Civic paid to acquire the address – Civic’s tokens currently have a market capitalization of $65.9 million according to CoinMarketCap – but, as he put it:
“It wasn’t pocket change.”
At its heart, the Civic protocol is built around the idea that users control their own data: – “your information sits on your device, not on our servers,” as Lingham explains it.
Identity.com will serve as a hub for businesses that have information and those that need it. So, rather than one company selling data about its users directly to another firm, the first company that can verify data would share that attestation with the user, who would then share it with the second firm that needs the information.
The blockchain allows the company receiving the information to verify that the attestation held by the consumer is legitimate.
Many different companies might be able to, for example, verify that a specific user has a valid driver’s license, but other companies might have different levels of trust in each other.
So, Identity.com will be a place for companies to set up relationships and have a means to tell consumers whose attestations they will trust.
“The key thing here is it will run on CVC tokens,” Lingham said.
The token will be the method by which requesting companies pay for validation from companies that have the information. Smart contracts are used to protect everyone during the transaction, ensuring that validators only get paid once requesting companies have received adequate information.
Many vendors, one market
Identity.com is expected to start directing traffic to a Civic-controlled website as of 22:00 UTC.
According to Lingham, the domain will play host to a business-to-business marketplace for companies looking to sell attestations about individuals and the companies seeking to verify information about their customers.
Citing the acquisition of a domain that will give their venture a higher profile, Civic has also decided to delay the launch of this marketplace to the fourth quarter of this year instead of the third quarter, as CoinDesk previously reported.
Civic will also make the software behind the marketplace open-source by the end of this year, in keeping with the industry-wide ethos of decentralization.
“We don’t want to be the ones behind it,” Lingham explained. “Initially we start off being a bit more stewards, but, over the long term — hopefully, we don’t need to be.”
Civic will be one of the companies in the Identity.com marketplace – but it hopes to be one of many.
“Civic will be like Stripe for identity,” Lingham said, meaning it will be easy for sites that want to use its network to verify people to integrate it with an easy API call.
But the new site is bigger than Civic’s part of it. Lingham positioned the domain acquisition as a major step for not just his company but the development of a “Web 3.0”
He told CoinDesk:
“It’s a big move for the industry, getting that domain secured and establish that as a rallying point.”
Vinny Lingham image via Shutterstock
Written by CoinDesk.com
Coinsmart Launches Cryptocurrency Exchange for Canadian Tax Payers
RSK Labs Launches Decentralized App Service
The Rootstock (RSK) project is a Turing-complete smart contract sidechain that is pegged 1-1 to BTC. Additionally, the RSK platform’s virtual machine (VM) is backward compatible with the Ethereum VM which adds even more depth to the system. Back in February, news.Bitcoin.com reported on RSK mining its genesis block which initiated the launch of the RSK ecosystem. This past spring, at the Consensus event in New York, RSK Labs co-founder Gabriel Kurman revealed that the sidechain was now secured by 1 in 10 BTC miners. Furthermore, there’s been a few walkthroughs and step-by-step guides on how developers can build smart contracts using the RSK network.
Now RSK Labs has launched a public infrastructure service that enables decentralized application (Dapp) creations without the infrastructure installation process. Essentially programmers won’t need to install specific infrastructure components so they build Dapps on the RSK network on-demand.
“We are excited to avail this service to let the Dapp developers focus on their solutions while we have their back on a reliable and scalable infrastructure that they do not need to install anymore,” Adrian Eidelman, RSK’s CTO details during the Dapp service announcement.
Dapp Infrastructure Without Tedious Installation, Jaxx Integration, and Bamboo Version 0.4.4
The full implementation of the RSK Dapp infrastructure is available on Github and there are two public nodes for testing — Testnet and mainnet. The nodes support 26 JSON remote procedure call (RPC) methods. If a programmer doesn’t want to use the public developer service they can still install, compile and run their own RSK node.
There’s been a lot of development happening with RSK Labs and the sidechain seems to be moving along after a long three-year wait prior to the initial launch. Further, the RSK token called ‘smart bitcoin (SBTC)’ also has wallet framework from a third party through a partnership with Jaxx.io. Jaxx users can store, send, and receive the RSK network’s SBTC using the light client.
“It speaks volumes that RSK has chosen the Jaxx platform as the first to integrate with — Proponents of the RSK vision believe this is a key step towards keeping the world’s biggest cryptocurrency competitive with the platform that pioneered smart contracts, or self-executing code,” explains Anthony Diiorio, the founder of Jaxx.io.
With the latest Dapp infrastructure service launch, RSK developers can now use those SBTCs to help with their platform builds. The service also follows the RSK Bamboo release v0.4.4 which adds improvements like reduced block processing and blockchain synchronization times.
Written by Bitcoin.com
Democracy of Two: NEO and the Crypto ‘Election’ That Wasn’t
What constitutes an election?
According those backing ethereum competitor neo, just one candidate and two voters.
The public blockchain project, whose tokens are valued at over $2 billion by crypto investors, went so far as to claim in a July 4 blog post that it had entered a “new era” in which its token holders will have a say in how decisions on the network are made, but even insiders are skeptical such assertions are little more than rhetoric.
Case in point, the NEO Foundation, which develops software for neo, announced this month that it had elected the first node to its network, a foundation-funded collective of NEO developers calling themselves City of Zion. Less publicized at the time, however, was that token holders were not allowed to participate in that vote.
As such, even those running the newly elected node aren’t exactly convinced that neo is fully committed to running its blockchain with broad participation from users, at least at this time.
“I would personally disagree with calling it an election,” Ethan Fast, a member of the City of Zion team, told CoinDesk in an interview. “That’s not a word I would choose.”
More broadly, such a conclusion is instructive in that neo is one of a growing number of public blockchains seeking to implement a more centralized model for how blockchains can be managed. Called delegated byzantine fault tolerance (dBFT), neo’s specific idea is that by consolidating decision-making to a small group of nodes, the software can become faster and more useful.
Its a break from bitcoin’s mining model in which any node operator who abides by the rules can compete to approve transactions, and one that has seen a handful of projects including EOS and Tron raise billions with big promises that it can prove viable.
In this way, neo, which has close ties to blockchain solutions company Onchain and the public Ontology project, has adopted technology it believes will address scalability issues — specifically, slow transaction speeds and controversial network upgrades.
“[The] NEO Council values efficiency (quick response and protocol upgrade) over decentralization (sometimes a crypto-political correctness) at this early stage,” the project’s governing body, now called the NEO Foundation, explained in a May post.
However, neo is perhaps unique in that it hasn’t provided much in the way of details on how it aims to do this in a way that will add up to the democratic process its touts.
Neo’s white paper and website do not provide a detailed description of its governance model, and further, the foundation has said in blog posts that it plans to maintain “decision-making power” until the “core protocol stabilizes,” though it has not defined what criteria constitute stability.
Once the foundation is confident in the strength of the network, it says it “expect[s] to see one to a few dozens of consensus nodes to be elected by NEO holders.” But before token holders are able to vote for candidates, the foundation plans to “elect” several private nodes, of which City of Zion is one.
A ‘benevolent oligarchy’
That might be one reason why other supporting language issued by the foundation has positioned the election as the first step in a long process to relinquish some of its power to token holders.
Still, the NEO Foundation’s use of the term “election” to describe the process by which City of Zion became a node at all has triggered some skepticism.
While “election” would arguably imply that a multiplicity of votes were cast, blog posts suggest that the NEO Foundation is currently the only voting entity in the ecosystem. City of Zion’s Fast confirmed that “there was no one from the public that voted in this election besides the NEO Foundation.” Likewise, of the foundation, only project co-founders Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang have the authority to make decisions, according to another blog post.
As such, Fast instead described NEO as “a kind of benevolent oligarchy,” and said that the community has been frustrated that the foundation has been slow to surrender some of its decision-making power.
“Just a small amount of decentralization in the short term is something CoZ has been pushing for for some time,” he said, adding that it “may not be happening as fast as [the community] want[s].”
Dean Eigenmann, founder of blockchain governance startup Harbour, was more critical of the foundation’s “election.”
“Libya had elections under Gaddafi, too,” he said, explaining further of the project:
“It just seems so uninteresting because it’s like they aren’t even trying to decentralize their governance. They were like, hmm this seems too hard. Let’s just keep it centralized.”
Degrees of democracy
NEO is not the only project to be criticized for how it is going about the election of nodes.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin warned in March that blockchains that use “coin voting” seem “to lead to a high risk of economic or political failure of some kind.” Likewise, Kyle Samani, managing partner at crypto fund Multicoin Capital, wrote on Twitter in June that EOS and Tezos, two other project seeking to compete on governance, are both “plutocracies.”
However, Richard Lee, founding partner at crypto fund Global Blockchain Innovative Capital took a more flexible position in an interview with CoinDesk, arguing that “there’s different levels of decentralization.”
“I think the different consensus protocols, at least right now, there’s trade offs in between. Sometimes you have to sacrifice decentralization for speed and efficiency or security,” he said, adding:
“Neo’s trying to address scalability in a different way than ethereum is… Neo has a more centralized approach for that.”
Lee said he interpreted the foundation’s use of “election,” “as more of, the NEO Foundation does not run all the nodes now,” and added, “I don’t see anything malicious or deceitful about that.”
Some participants in neo community forums were nonetheless skeptical of the election, with one reddit user posting, “Decentralization goes way beyond the amount of nodes. It has to do with governance and decision making. If you still have a central entity deciding new features, etc you cannot become fully decentralized.”
However, other comments reflected Lee’s conclusion about the election, with many participants greeting the announcement of the election with enthusiasm.
Whether neo will follow through on its promise to empower token holders remains to be seen.
According to a timeline published in a blog post, the foundation plans to elect Dutch telecommunications company and neo partner KPN and Chinese venture capital firm Fenbushi Capital to operate the next privately held nodes in the network by the end of 2018. It intends to allow token holders to both vote for and campaign to become nodes in 2019.
The NEO Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.
Image via Neo Community Facebook
Written by Bitcoin.com