Coinbase Doubles Down on the Future of Digital Identity

WIRED | 8/15/2018 | Gregory Barber
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Earlier this year, the executors of #DeleteFacebook engaged in a form of decentralized group therapy. Catharsis came in a zip file downloaded before deletion, containing the data you shared with Facebook—your friends, your photos, your posts—and with it, the data Facebook shared about you: the ads you clicked, the list of businesses that know where you live and where else you shop. A portrait of the modern digital identity—or, at least, part of it.

But what if Facebook never held onto any of that data in the first place? To some enthusiasts, blockchain technology holds that promise: a way to return ownership of personal data to the individual, along with the power to share that data with others and revoke it as they please. On Wednesday, Coinbase, one the world’s largest exchanges for buying and selling cryptocurrency, announced it had acquired a team working to do just that.

Employees - Distributed - Systems - San - Francisco

The five employees of Distributed Systems, a San Francisco startup, will join Coinbase’s Identity team, which spun out as a dedicated engineering unit last winter. Coinbase, which did not disclose the terms of the deal, says the new arrivals will help the company explore ways to integrate decentralized identity across its services. The startup had been at work on an open identity standard for users of Dapps, or “decentralized apps,” computer programs that run on a blockchain’s network of computers.

'Empowering users is a great rallying cry, but what will ultimately happen is users will end up punting these problems to centralized services.'

Purchase - String - Acquisitions - Months - Coinbase

The purchase joins a string of acquisitions in recent months aimed at diversifying the Coinbase’s offerings beyond its cryptocurrency exchange. In an industry rife with fraud, the company has leveraged its reputation for relative safety and approachability to become popular with retail investors. Despite some growing pains, the company now hosts some 20...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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