The World Economic Forum (WEF) is working with the Canadian and Dutch governments to pilot a digital identity project that focuses in part on blockchain.
The Known Traveller Digital Identity initiative is aimed at using technologies like blockchain and biometrics to improve the security around international air travel. A prototype, developed in collaboration with professional services firm Accenture, was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.
The idea behind the concept is to provide travelers with greater control over their identifying information by eliminating the need for a central database. Rather, travelers would rely on a "permission-based distributed ledger" that would allow for the transfer of information about a traveler's background and where they've gone to, for example.
The WEF claims that the ledger's use, if fully realized, would "enable pre-screening and facilitation fo compliant known travelers across borders." At the same time, that would potentially free up resources for other purposes.
According to the group, an ever-swelling number of travelers - international travel is expected to climb to 1.8 billion people annually by 2013, per figures cited by the WEF - underlies the need for more efficient processes.
John Moavenzadeh, a member of the WEF's Executive Committee, said in a statement:
"With travellers providing access to verified personal biometric, biographic and historical travel data at their discretion, they can assist authorities to undertake risk assessments and pre-screening in advance: essentially verifying their identities and providing secure and seamless movement throughout their journey using biometric recognition technology."
According to a report that summarizes the project, it has not yet been decided whether or not the personal data will be stored on the blockchain directly.
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