We develop the AQUA-Protocol to increase trust and digital sovereignty for individuals and organizations.
We believe that this is an effective way to redefine collaboration and strengthen democracy to be more inclusive and participatory by providing accountability for data. We do this in a context where it is critical to address challenges and threats which come with the advancement of technologies (e.g. deep fake, manipulation of data, digital surveillance, monopolization).
With the powerful tools we provide, we can showcase how trusted data and digital sovereignty are key enablers to support the emancipation and integration of individuals and small to medium businesses into a digital economy, which is currently dominated by large players. We are showing how this is a feasible approach to empower more inclusive and democratic participation.
What are exemplary applications that are meeting current organizational demands?
Aside from the core features of the AQUA-Protocol and its reference implementation (to provide data integrity verification, proof of existence, and a strong identity by using public-private key infrastructure), there is an amazing potential that comes as an emergent property of the interaction of individuals using sovereign instances of Personal-Knowledge-Containers.
This potential lies in the ability to collaborate by exchanging verified data between independent parties to form a network of relationships as a web of trust. This allows for peer-to-peer institutions and organizations to be built fully software-defined, in traditional or network structures.
It is possible to model existing institutions on top of this infrastructure today. It is a free and open-source tool to provide a process to issue and verify digital certificates for various use cases. Including examples, showcased for the educational sector (school and university degrees) but the use cases go beyond this:
- Provide an infrastructure to curate knowledge and enable peer-to-peer wiki’s in which a contribution itself is attested. This has potentially huge implications, as a successfully merged contribution to a leading scientific endeavor could one could imagine this succeeding the reputational value of a university degree.
- Fighting fake news by providing an audible trail for the information source to the consumer and which steps have been taken, by which account, to reach its current state. E.g. an intelligence report about an ongoing conflict or crisis.
- Providing credible credentials to fight deep fake and impersonation. In one shocking case, this shows the danger for our political landscape. In this example the mayor of Berlin was tricked, when she had a zoom call with a fake Vladimir Klitschko (in the role of the Mayor of Kyiv, using deep fake for the video and audio to impersonate him) who tried to get money from her. Source
- Providing a trust infrastructure for invoice validation: Large companies are challenged by the increasing number of fraud and fishing emails to trick companies to send money to criminals. We can use the SSI-Approach of aqua to verify invoices and do automated tests towards the trustworthiness of the sender, by checking the sender’s account and the trust relationship cryptographically. Allowing for automated verification of the invoices instead of lengthy manual testing procedures or complicated processes requiring a CRM-System with an intense KYC (Know You Customer) approach.
- Proving where the information has originated. This can be used to protect intellectual property (IP) or to prove where data originated. This is highly relevant in various contexts, be it for the credibility of evidence in court or for whistle-blowers or investigative journalists to give their claims more credibility.
The socio-technological impact on society
We provide a prototype implementation of the aqua protocol with a Personal-Knowledge-Container(PKC). An approach towards digital sovereignty without compromises. It enables data accounting and with it an effective way to enable peer-to-peer trusted data generation and exchange. We showcase that it is possible to have full control over your data, you can share and govern it independently of third parties. This is essential to democratize access to the digital economy, so individuals can utilize the value of their data and do trusted interactions with each other.
This technology enables various applications by offering a peer-to-peer-publishing platform technology, this includes but is not limited to:
- Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)
- crowdsourced knowledge management, a distributed Wikipedia
- crowdsourced news
- crowdsourced petition systems (crowdsourcing problems, solutions, decisions).
This Protocol and prototype allow for the practical exploration this how this can redefine our collective sense-making by providing a rational process for forming a truth by consensus between trusted peers. This allows for the practical exploration of digital, participatory collaboration at scale, as the AQUA-Protocol can account for contributions that are currently not measurable in monetary value while those contributions provide value to society and/or nature. It seems possible to envision a different economy where data becomes a multi-dimensional currency that allows us to make better-informed decisions. It can inform us to have a greater choice in how we participate economically as service providers and/or consumers.
- What is it not yet good for?: This is an experimental protocol with a pilot implementation, which is meant for the exploration of new design principles to improve digital sovereignty and trust. This prototype is not production-grade software and should not be used outside of experimental applications. The prototype does currently (Dec'22) not include a transport layer.