Design Princiciples

Lists the design principles underlying our reference implementation

The following design principles pertain to Aqua reference Implementation PKC

Private is Default

The principle default to private is that no data of the PKC Data vault is shared without it being explicitly authorized by the associated account.

Domain Access Levels

Levels of access are:

Private: Only the account owner has access to files and services initialized by his account. Agreement / Permissioned access: The Account owner grants other Account’s access to files or services based on verifiable contracts which are themselves written with the Aqua Protocol to ensure they are forgery-proof and therefore safe. Public: Other Account’s have access to the file or service without agreements.

Offline Capability

The PKC Data Vault follow’s the principle of being able to run and be functional without internet connection after setup or through installation based on local installation files.

This allows PKC setups to be kept offline from any internet connectivity while still functional. This can provide the required assurances for very sensitive data.

Separation of Account and Service

Concern: There is a trend in the DIF/WC3 Identity space that some players like to accumulate personal identifiable data (PII) inside of Wallets. We think this is a ill-fated direction and there should be a clear separation between account and service. Wallets should not hold personal identifiable data.


  • If the service gets hacked, no account related data is leaked if it’s not stored.
  • Account is not compromised, as there is no password saved within the service with Password free login.

Wallet ’s have one job. Keep private keys safe! (Account Management)

  • Should be stupid, simple, safe!
  • Allowed operations:
    • Signing
    • De- / Encrypt
    • Publishing transactions to service (e.g. witness networks)
  • Ability to choose “high level of assurance” depending on the stakes associated with the account(s) managed by the wallet
  • Takes care of key recovery mechanisms

Data Vault (Service)- Has one job: keep the data safe!

  • Principle: Offline Capability so it can run offline; works offline on local machine
  • All significant actions authorized and managed though the wallet
  • Should offer good tooling for data storage and manipulation
  • Strong access control: By Principle: Default is Private which means data is only accessible by the owner.
  • Data is well protected
    • The Data Vault should apply additional security features to keep the data safe.
    • e.g. Encryption of files / databases if service is not used.
    • e.g. Encryption of pages with web-decryption (allowing for End-to-End Encryption).
  • Capabilities for sharing and publishing data
  • Offers full Backup and Recovery mechanisms to move data freely

Signature Login

We do not use passwords for login but instead we use a signature of a private key to authorize access to a service. This increases security and does not require the user to remember a password, creating a better user experience.

* Account owner uses his wallet to complete a signature challenge for login. With this challenge he proves that he owns the private key to a public key. If the public key is registered as an account at the service, the account is granted access.

  • The password can’t be leaked as it does not exist.
  • Very high security

* Requires access to the wallet which holds the private key to authorize access

  • Not commonly understood by users as a way to login (new process)

Principle: Data Portability

The Principle of Data Portability means that the Account owner can instruct the Service to Export all data associated with the Account and is free to move this data to a new service which is capable of importing the data.

Implementation Specifics

In PKC’s this is guaranteed by:
* providing a Backup and restore procedure which allows to move data between PKC’s and restore them in case of a required recovery.

  • providing a file import and export function
  • providing an import / export API

Furthermore we ensure with the development of the MediaWiki Data Accounting Extension, that the data is still compatible with the legacy import / export (which means only the text not the verification data is imported / exported.

Last modified January 23, 2023: main page: Default to whitepaper (99f7613)