PhD Candidate, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore
As a technology that can be traced back to the late 1990s in its structural fundamentals, ‘blockchain’ came into mainstream public discourse as of 2017. Previously discussed in the fringes of the technology-savvy circles, blockchain has now became a global phenomenon and indeed an industry that is rapidly growing and capturing a notable share of the public imagination along with academic discourse. Blockchain’s emergence in the realm of technology is essentially thanks to the invention of bitcoin as both a speculative asset and as a digital store of value. Many governments around the world have made public claims regarding their enthusiasm in adopting ‘blockchain’ in various ways; varying from Russia, Estonia and Ukraine in Europe all the way to Venezuela in Latin America and even the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. This paper puts out the objective of achieving self-sovereign identities on the blockchain is a promise that has not yet manifested on the ground, albeit it disproportionately captures a significant share of the contemporary discourse on the three larger concepts of self-sovereignty, digital identity and the blockchain. A key reason for the lack of manifestation of this promise is that, there is little agreement as to what is actually meant by ‘self-sovereign identities’ —in stark comparison to the major consensus over the concepts of ‘blockchain’ or ‘cryptocurrencies’. In order to explore the genealogy of the core concept of ‘identity’, the theoretical genesis of ‘biopolitics’ is consulted, demonstrating that our contemporary technological epoch is best defined as an era of the emergence of ‘biodigital’ power. The paper ultimately argues that the reason for this disproportional share of discourse is created by certain actors to utilise the growing rhetoric on ‘blockchain’ and the libertarian notion of ‘self-sovereignty’ as façades to potentially pursue biocapitalist objectives.
Keywords: blockchain, self-sovereignty, bitcoin, biocapitalism, digital identity, privacy, data, cryptocurrencies.
JEL Classification: O31; O33; O35; O38.
Cite as: Kibaroğlu, O. (2020). Self Sovereign Digital Identity on the Blockchain: A Discourse Analysis. Financial Markets, Institutions and Risks, 4(2), 65-79. https://doi.org/10.21272/fmir.4(2).65-79.2020.
- Altshuler, Yaniv (2014). Security and Privacy in Social Networks. Springer. Available at: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9781461441380.
- Amrute, Sareeta (2016). Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin. Duke University Press. . Available at: https://read.dukeupress.edu/books/book/62/Encoding-Race-Encoding-ClassIndian-IT-Workers-in
- Birch, Kean, and David Tyfield (2012). Theorizing the Bioeconomy: Biovalue, Biocapital, Bioeconomics or . . . What? Science, Technology, & Human Values, 38(3), 299–327. DOI: 10.1177/0162243912442398.
- Burke, Peter J., and Jan E. Stets (2009). Identity Theory. DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388275.001.0001.
- Cabral, Esperanza (2013). Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines. Journal of the ASEAN Federation of Endocrine Societies, 28(1), 26-29. DOI: 10.15605/jafes.028.01.06.
- Calder, Kent E. (2017). Singapore: Smart City, Smart State”. Brookings, Washington D.C. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325703627_Singapore_Singapore_Smart_city_smart_state_By_Kent_E_Calder_Washington_DC_Brookings_Institution_Press_2016_Pp_233_Appendix_Notes_Bibiliography_Index.
- Chan, David (2017). Social Futures of Singapore Society. World Scientific, Singapore. Available at: https://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2501/
- Chng, Grace. (2017). Intelligent Island: The Untold Story of Singapore’s Tech Journey”. SITF, Singapore. Available at: https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/tech-tales-of-an-intelligent-island
- Chua, Beng Huat (2017). Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press. Availabl at: https://nuspress.nus.edu.sg/products/liberalism-disavowed-communitarianism-and-state-capitalism-in-singapore
- Chuen, David Lee Kuo (2015). Handbook of Digital Currency: Bitcoin, Innovation, Financial Instruments, and Big Data. Academic Press. Available at: https://www.elsevier.com/books/handbook-of-digital-currency/lee-kuo-chuen/978-0-12-802117-0
- Cockell, Charles. (2016). Dissent, Revolution and Liberty beyond Earth. Springer. Available at: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319293479
- Collantes, Christianne F. (2018). Reproductive Dilemmas in Metro Manila Faith, Intimacies and Globalization, Vol. 1. Singapore: Springer Singapore. Available at: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9789811053900
- Ecks, Stefan (2004). Bodily sovereignty as political sovereignty: ‘self‐care’ in Kolkata, India, Anthropology & Medicine, 11(1), 75-89. DOI: 10.1080/1364847042000204906
- Elliott, Anthony . Routledge Handbook of Identity Studies. Routledge, 2017. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Handbook-of-Identity-Studies/Elliott/p/book/9781138019416
- Foucault, Michel, and François Ewald (2008). Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collége De France, 1975-76. Penguin. Available at: https://pdflibrary.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/foucault_soc_defended.pdf
- Foucault, Michel, and James D. Faubion (2002). Power. London: Penguin. Available at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/230/23075/power/9780241435083.html
- Golumbia, David (2016). The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism. University of Minnesota Press. Available at: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-politics-of-bitcoin
- Hinton, Timothy (2013). Equality, Self-Ownership, and Individual Sovereignty. The Philosophical Forum, 44(2), 165–178. Available at: doi:10.1111/phil.12009
- Huckle, S., & White, M. (2016). Socialism and the blockchain. Future Internet, 8(4), 49. Available at: doi: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG.LIBPROXY1.NUS.EDU.SG/10.3390/FI8040049
- Hodgson, Justin (2019). Post-Digital Rhetoric and the New Aesthetic (Rhetoric and Materiality). Ohio University Press. Available at: https://networks.h-net.org/node/3739868/pdf
- Janichen, Stefan, et al. (2017). Self-Sovereign Identity – Opportunities and Challenges for the Digital Revolution. Available at: FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik Am Karlsruher Institut Für Technologie, Karlsruhe; arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01767.pdf.
- Latour, Bruno (1993). We Have Never Been Modern. Harvard University Press. Available at: https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674948396
- Natarajan, Harish; Krause, Solvej; Gradstein, Helen (2017). Distributed Ledger Technology and Blockchain. FinTech Note; No. 1. World Bank, Washington, DC. World Bank. Available at: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/29053
- Manski, Sarah (2017). Building the Blockchain World: Technological Commonwealth or Just More of the Same? Strategic Change, 26(5), 511–522. DOI: 10.1002/jsc.2151.
- Ong, Aihwa (2016). Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life. Duke University Press. Available at: https://www.dukeupress.edu/fungible-life
- Pemberton, John (1994). On the Subject of Java. Cornell University Press. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/ahr/article-abstract/101/2/543/157637?redirectedFrom=fulltext
- Rao, Radhika (2016). Informed consent, body property, and self-sovereignty. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Fall, 437. Available at: http://link.galgroup.com/apps/doc/A466051977/LT?u=nuslib&sid=LT&xid=a2909bca
- Swan, Melanie (2015). Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy. O’Reilly Media, Inc. Available at: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920037040.do
- Trotter, Griffith (2014). Autonomy as Self-Sovereignty. HEC Forum, 26, 237. Available at: https://doi-org.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/10.1007/s10730-014-9248-2
- Vaidhyanathan, Siva (2011). The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry)”. University of California Press. Available at: https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520272897/the-googlization-of-everything