In a recent YouTube Q&A, Andreas Antonopoulos gave his thoughts on the initiatives that seek to secure people’s identities and personal information using blockchain technology.
Andreas states in the video that although digital identity was a hot topic in the blockchain space, he was “extremely sceptical that you can solve problems of identity simply by throwing a magic blockchain at it.”
He said the problem is that regulated institutions require you to enter identity information for things that they don’t need identity information to do.
“We use identity to control for fraud risk in ways that don’t actually control or protect against fraud. The fact that you have identification doesn’t mean that you are trustworthy or that your behaviour is good. The fact that you behaved well in the past doesn’t mean that you will always behave well in the future.”
Andreas even mentioned that the world’s worst criminals were completely innocent before they committed their first crimes.
A good person
Andreas said that in our society, we have assumed that if you’re identified, then you’re a good person. If you’re identified and not good, we can chase you down and impose punishments as needed.
“Both of these assumptions have resulted in the exclusion of several billion people from the financial system because they don’t have identification. But several hundreds of thousands of criminals have both identification and banking licenses,” he said.
“If you create a system like that, those who can issue identification documents become criminals. Eventually, those who have control over people’s identification become the biggest criminals of them all.”
Fraud and terrorism
Andreas believes the idea that everyone needs to be identified before they transact is a relatively recent one. He said that it hasn’t “actually reduced fraud or allowed governments to stop crime and terrorism.”
“It just ensures that the only people who can commit massive crimes against millions of people are those who are funded and supported by governments.”
He thought the side effect of mass poverty (that the requirement of identification creates) is much bigger than the small benefit you might have in some areas of fraud prevention.
“Of course, any time I have this conversation with anyone, especially in government as fans of identification, they will tell you if only we had more control over people, then finally crime will be eradicated.”
“It is always just a bit more power, more identification, more control for them. If you believe that, then its the path to fascism,” said Andreas.
Not supporting blockchain identification
Andreas stated that he did not want to do blockchain identification, and instead would much prefer anonymous cryptocurrencies.
“This gives people the freedom to transact and interact with each other without forcing them to use regulated intermediaries. It gives those intermediaries enormous power with very little benefit for humanity.”