Bitcoin and digital currency companies endorse new digital framework for digital identity, trust and open data

ID3 (Institute for Data Driven Design), a research nonprofit founded out of the MIT Media Lab, today teamed with nearly two dozen leading digital currency firms to announce the Windhover Principles, a new principles-based framework collaboratively written with public and private stakeholders to ensure secure personal identity, trust and access to shared open data on the Internet. Key advocacy and support was generated by DATA (Digital Asset Transfer Authority) in building the coalition.

The Windhover Principles are being implemented on an open source platform, foundationally based on ID3’s contribution of its Open Mustard Seed (OMS) software platform. As the cornerstone of the new principles and framework, ID3 announced support from a wide range of digital currency and Bitcoin-related companies and individuals: BitPay, BitReserve, Bitstamp,, Coinsetter, DATA, Delta, Epiphyte, Erik Voorhees, Hub Culture Group/Ven Currency, LaunchKey, Personal, Personal Black Box, Ripple Labs, SnapSwap, Swarm, Trefoil Labs, Vaurum, Xapo, ZipZap and 37coins.

The Windhover Principles for Digital Identity and Trust are deeply rooted in the belief that individuals should have control of their digital personal identities and personal data. Underlying this core value is the principle of ensuring innovation in trust and privacy. Concurrently, the industry group’s support of transparent, proportionate and risk-based regulation will allow stakeholders to meaningfully leverage new technologies for enhanced governance, auditing and enforcement needs. Implementation of the core Windhover Principles on the inclusive OMS open source platform as a sustainable industry step, paired with MIT-designed Living Labs, underscores a results-driven ethos supported by the group of companies and supporters.

Framing the issues, ID3 Chief Scientist and Co-founder Dr. Alex “Sandy” Pentland, Toshiba Chair Professor at the MIT Media Lab and co-lead of the Big Data and Personal Data & Privacy Initiatives at the World Economic Forum, said: “The Windhover Principles support my view that it is time for us all to take charge of our personal data. Technologies such as OpenPDS and ID3’s Open Mustard Seed provide a new technical solution to a rapidly growing societal problem. Our work at MIT will continue to influence ID3 and the emerging industry-supported OMS open source project — not only in technology, but also in method, as we assist in architecting MIT Living Labs test beds to understand and optimize these new solutions.”

OMS is a trusted compute platform for developing and deploying secure cloud applications to collect, compute on and share personal data. It enables the development and deployment of web apps in a secure, user-centric personal cloud. Just as the original HTML code gave rise to the World Wide Web and new types of bottom-up social communication and collaboration, OMS can be understood as a new “social stack” of protocols. The framework provides a stack of core technologies that work together to provide a high level of authentication, security and ease of use when sharing and collecting personal and environmental data. This enables the control of web-enabled devices, and engagement with others to aggregate information and view the results of applied computations via protected services. The Windhover Principles serve as the cornerstone of this framework.

“The next phase of Internet growth requires a re-tooling, with identity and trust at the foundation, to bring the ownership and control of personal data back to the individual. Doing so will spawn a new stage of collaboration and open data exchange,” said ID3 Managing Director Dan Harple, Internet pioneer, serial entrepreneur and MIT Entrepreneur in Residence. “The Windhover Principles, coupled with an inclusive open sourced Open Mustard Seed project and MIT-influenced Living Labs, are tremendously positive steps toward an industry-wide solution. Our vision for OMS is as an inclusive platform to transform how we, as collective Internet users, can take back our personal data, and share it in a trusted and secure way — not only for Bitcoin and digital currency transactions, but for other data and media types as well.”

With the digital currency industry’s support, ID3 and participating firms plan to iteratively test, implement and deploy granular technical solutions to trust, privacy and governance on the OMS open source platform. Leading digital currency firms are committed to future, collaborative development of legal and technical frameworks — along with subject matter experts, government bodies and the private sector — to implement the core Windhover Principles through rigorous testing in MIT-type Living Labs.

Jaron Lukasiewicz, CEO, Coinsetter stated: “Decentralized identity technology will allow the bitcoin industry to increase user privacy and create new paths for cheaper and more effective compliance. We are solving global regulatory issues with an ethical solution that simply works better.”

Balancing regulatory requirements with the increasing need for privacy and secure identity is a core component of the Windhover Principles and OMS. “Illustrating how a new form of autonomous industry governance can emerge using open source methods to solve large systemic problems, this industry-wide collective includes some of the world’s foremost thought leaders and innovators on today’s Internet and their companies,” said ID3 Co-founder and Executive Chairman Dr. John Clippinger, an internationally recognized research scientist at MIT Media Lab. “The increasing complexity of technical systems render effective and balanced regulation of identity and personal data — including KYC (Know Your Customer) and risks of AML (Anti-Money Laundering) — a deeply complex and rapidly changing global process that cannot be sustained by current governmental and private sector practices. New forms of engagement are needed by all stakeholders that combine innovative digital technologies with new regulatory practices and intensive testing to drive viable privacy — and security-preserving solutions for the 21st century.”

The Windhover Principles were collaboratively written by the industry group of companies and their advisors, and included dialog with financial regulators. “In Europe as well, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) requirements are getting stricter and stricter, and we will pretty soon run out of tools to deal with these requirements adequately and efficiently. The MIT/ID3 Platform, together with the Windhover Principles, constitute an excellent opportunity to build the AML/CTF tools we will need tomorrow whilst at the same time allowing individuals to have control over their personal data — a key tenant of privacy,” said Jean-Louis Schiltz, IT lawyer and Luxembourg’s former Minister of Communications and Defense.

“The advent of digital ledger technologies, when coupled with digital identities, has the potential to extend financial access to everyone in the world, rather than just those lucky enough to be banked,” said Ripple Labs Chief Compliance Officer Karen Gifford. “For everyone, these new technologies better support security sought by law enforcement, trust sought by merchants and privacy rights of individual consumers. We’re excited to be a part of ID3’s initiative to build a global framework for identity as a value-added layer to the initial financial innovation started by virtual currencies.”

“The blockchain and other distributed technologies call on us to reimagine our existing world in ways that carefully balance public policy goals in the 21st century world — the global impact of the Internet on shifting norms of interaction and transaction presents serious challenges to traditional paradigms of the governance process and geographically localized regulatory regimes,” said Constance Choi, founding board director of DATA and Seven Advisory, who advises a broad spectrum of entities and policymakers in the digital asset industry. “Policymakers and private industries are beginning to understand the opportunities in these complex dynamics and collaborative work is underway to ensure self-determination and inclusion, and increase trust and viability. This is at the heart of the Windhover Principles and the OMS reference platform.”

Check out the book From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond: The Quest for Autonomy and Identity in a Digital Society which explores a new generation of digital technologies that are re-imagining the very foundations of identity, governance, trust and social organization which formed the foundations of these Windhover principles.


The Windhover Principles for Digital Identity, Trust and Data

1. Self-Sovereignty of Digital Identity and Personal Data:

Individuals and groups should have control of their digital personal identities and personal data.

Today we communicate, share and transact digitally over the Internet. Individuals who make use of the Internet for these purposes should have control over their digital identities, ensuring individual autonomy, trust in their communications and counter parties, as well as in the integrity of the data they share and transact with. 

Individuals, not social networks, governments, or corporations, should control their identity credentials and personal data. Control of one’s identity and personal data means that people should have unfettered access to their personal data, the ability to verify attributes of their personal identity profiles, and the ability to prevent unauthorized public and private access.

We support the collaborative open source development of systems that embody these principles and recognize the need to address the requirements of legacy regulatory mechanisms, including by evolving innovative digital technologies to improve privacy, governance and enforcement.

2. Proportionate Enforcement and Risk-Based Regulation:

Enhancing / improving personal privacy while promoting effective governance and accommodating legitimate auditing and enforcement needs.

We encourage innovation in identity, trust, security, and data technologies and policies to provide effective methods to address governance and enforcement concerns. Governance includes the concepts of transparency and accountability necessary to protect digital transactions from abuse. We believe these technologies can address public policy interests by enabling appropriate access and verification of identity data. Entities and individuals, acting on the basis of verifiable approvals, including due process and appropriate warrants, should be able to access such data through specific and auditable means. New and evolving digital technologies make it possible to protect an individual’s privacy while providing authorized government access to customer identification, due diligence and transaction monitoring information for legally authorized needs.

3. Ensuring Innovation in Trust and Privacy:

An effective, autonomous identity system re-iteratively furthers trust, security, governance, accountability and privacy.

Protecting privacy and fostering trust and governance are foundational Windhover Principles that support a fully functional identity system designed to collect and analyze data in a network in which identities are continuously and independently authenticated. These core principles are intended to foster development of more trustworthy, effective and resilient products and services to minimize the risks and costs of fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing and other criminal activity.

4. Open Source Collaboration and Continuous Innovation:

An inclusive, open source methodology to build systems that embody these principles.

Supporters of the Windhover Principles agree to cooperate to build systems that deliver these requirements and to participate in Living Labs to develop strong and innovative technical product solutions that inter-operate to meet these challenges.


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