The Bitcoin Bridge: Sunny Fung explains MetaID and portable identity

Imagine owning your own social media data, and being able to move it to a new platform. The idea sounds simple, yet the option isn’t available in most places. Why is that? Could an identity system based on the Bitcoin blockchain be a solution? Sunny Fung, CEO of ShowPay, has spent the past year creating MetaID for this purpose—and he tells us all about it on this week’s edition of The Bitcoin Bridge.

“In short, MetaID could turn applications from platform-centric into user-centric,” Sunny says. All the user’s personal information and the data they create is linked to transactions on the blockchain, allowing them to set permissions as to who (or what platforms) can see it.

The benefits of a portable identity system where users “truly own their data” are many. You can close your account on Facebook and Twitter, and (optionally) download all your data there. But you can’t port that data to a new platform, and there’s no guarantee the original platform doesn’t have a backup copy stored somewhere. With MetaID, control and ownership of the data remains with the user.

Sunny uses the language of The Metanet, a Bitcoin (BSV) concept that could see the entire internet replicated on a more secure, verifiable network where no data is lost and it’s harder for centralized platforms to delete or censor information. We haven’t heard the word “Metanet” much lately, but it remains a key Bitcoin SV concept. The idea is yet to be fully explored, and much of what can be done with it is up to developers’ imaginations.

For now, MetaID is more useful for taking online-created identities from platform to platform, rather than as a verified-identity system to use for KYC for online and real-world accounts. As Sunny explains, at this stage the system itself doesn’t have the ability to check for “fake” identities, and it’s possible for one user to create multiple IDs.

This might change in the future if third-party authorization systems are added; ones that could officially link a blockchain transaction/address to a real-life person. That’s another problem desperately in need of a solution. Several people have tried to do this over the years already, but limitations on what data can be stored on blockchains (particularly BTC) and issues coordinating official verification have slowed them down.

Could MetaID be the system that changes all that? Quite possibly. As with many concepts to do with massive blockchain data storage, it’s a matter of acceptance and economics. But the ecosystem is growing every day as users and developers alike begin to learn what’s possible.

Check out previous episodes of The Bitcoin Bridge on Streamanity.

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.