Blockchain for Decentralized Identity — Layer 4 — Governance

3 Jul 2022

The governance framework as defined by the Trust Over IP Foundation1 is foundational to a successful Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) ecosystem. Most scenarios start with the policies at the core of building trust. Governance Frameworks and procedures are in the nascent stage. These are still evolving, and more work remains.

Various governing bodies oversee the Decentralized Identity ecosystem and define operating policies. Governing bodies comprise TAOs (Trusted Accreditation Organizations), Trust Anchors, legal professionals, insurers of trusted issuers, and Auditors. The policies contain how multi-party systems collaborate, work, and engage in common types of transactions. It promotes trust and ensures participating members follow the registries and ecosystem frameworks.

Governance will evolve by geography, country, vertical segment, industry, and business groups. For example, the IATA4 (International Air Transport Association) has developed standards for verifiable credentials and schemas for the travel industry. A group of issuers may also create a governance consortium and agree to abide by specific rules. They ensure the immutability and interoperability of the components of the stack. They confirm the integrity of DIDs according to defined methods for different verifiable credentials. We can also have stewards within a blockchain or industry guarantee abidance by agreements and frameworks and look out for malicious behavior. These frameworks could include business, legal, policies, contracts, and specifications that all ecosystem members must follow. For example, Bonifii5 delivers a peer-to-peer services network of verifiable exchange for financial cooperatives.

In Layer 1, on the blockchain, governance can take many forms depending on the kind of distributed ledger; for the permissioned, the stewards maintain the policies established for the blockchain. For the public blockchain, policies from governing bodies will apply. Since there could be multiple organizations participating in the public version, defining and communicating policy standards, resolving conflicts with stakeholders are some of the challenges for the governor.

Layer 2 covers the Hardware, Software, and Agency providers. These cover security, privacy, interoperability for mobile devices and wallets, agents, and data stores with adequate data protection.

Layer 3, with Credential Governance Frameworks, covers credential registries where the credential details get published for verification. Some issuers may also take insurance coverage to manage their risk and give verifiers confidence. The authenticity of an issuer can be built into a workflow for the holder to trust the source.

Layer 4, Ecosystem Governance Frameworks, can be established by geography, country, vertical segment, industry, and business groups. Authorized lists for Issuers and Verifiers are created and kept by governments, nonprofits, educational institutions, and ethnic and social groups. Stewards and Trustees administer processes that touch Trust Anchors and entities while maintaining member directories and accredited auditor lists. This layer shapes usability guidelines and experiences that build trust.

The trust diamond covers how governance authorities and frameworks play a role in the self-sovereign identity ecosystem to build trust. Governance frameworks issued by the governing authorities determine authorized issuers of verifiable credentials in a given domain. With the increased adoption of SSI, we will see this expand and evolve.

The Trust over IP Foundation1 is one such governance body. Its mission is to provide a scalable, common standards-based foundation to build digital trust for the internet. Trust over IP has a dual-stack — for Governance and Technology. It leads with governance as it is critical to solving for the success of SSI. Trust will enable SSI to scale, which will come with effective management. It is a layered set of technology protocols with governance frameworks that define how the protocols with interoperability get implemented.

The W3C2 is another open standards body that is working to deliver standards for the long-term growth of the internet. In addition, the W3C published standards for DIDs and (at the time of writing this blog) one for the Digital Wallet is underway.

In February 2022, Trust over IP Foundation and the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation announced a new standardized, and decentralized ecosystem based on Trust over IP Governance Metamodel to support digital identity for all global legal entities. More on the impact of this on Digital Commerce in an upcoming post.

In the next post, I will cover Industry standards for Decentralized Identity.
To reference previous posts refer to this link. Again, I would suggest reading the posts in succession.


A service provider could host cloud agents or provision edge agents for entities. Essentially “Agent as a Service.”

Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI):
A decentralized way to manage the identity of an entity, built on the principles of transparency, interoperability, portability, consent from the owner who controls what they own, know, and have.


1. Trust over IP Foundation-
2. W3C —
3. 2021, Reed, Drummond and Preukschat, Alex: Self-Sovereign Identity


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