Why We Need Guardianship in the Digital World, and How We Might Approach Delivering Guardianship Using Verifiable Credentials

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Guardianship is a condition of life in human societies. When we are young we may be looked after by parents until we become adults. When we are adults we on occasions need others to look after us, and sometimes we may need increasing levels of care as we age.
In our physical world, we may recognise a guardianship role between parents and children and within families, and we may have more or less sophisticated laws to recognise instances where someone needs to take care of another for medical, financial or other needs.
While the concept of Guardianship is reasonably well developed and understood in our physical lives, it is scarcely considered in our digital lives. Very few (if any) considerations are made for the possibility that someone may need another to look after their affairs online. Without this consideration, we resort to poor approaches such as where a Guardian needs to "log in" as the dependent, without the visibility of the service provider, or has to prove their Guardianship status to a service provider who is physically remote and often in a different legal jurisdiction.
In late 2019, the Sovrin Task Force on Guardianship wrote a white paper on Guardianship considering these issues against two specific use cases: a child refugee and an adult living with dementia. A Working Group was established at the beginning of 2020 to develop these ideas further within the context of Trust over IP and has produced two key documents: an Implementation Guide to Guardianship using Verifiable Credentials, and a Technical Requirements document for Guardianship using Verifiable Credentials.
I would like to present these new pieces of work and, hopefully, engage in a discussion on guardianship in the digital world.
**Please note that this work was created by a team working with the not-for-profit Sovrin Organisation and is provided on a Creative Commons BY SA 4.0 Licence**

John Phillips, Partner, 460degrees

Language: English • Duration: 20:25 • Resolution: 1280x720

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