The Decentralized Identity (DID)

Anyone can access Roam’s WiFi OpenRoaming Network with a decentralized identity (DID) credential, available for free on the Roam app.

Decentralized identities are unique sequences of code that can be used to identify any particular entity, and that are verified decentralizedly on the blockchain by a group of nodes. Roam’s nodes are routers that verify DIDs in a mining process in order to grant users access to its global WiFi OpenRoaming network. So in this case, DIDs are used as special WiFi credentials.

This blockchain-based verification process eliminates the need for a centralized, third-party verifier of WiFi credentials. Instead, DIDs can be verified decentrally by collections of individual routers working together as blockchain nodes, which can thereby establish WiFi connections without requiring credentials to be stored centrally. This results in a mining process where any router to which a DID is presented for WiFi access will generate Roam Points after the other nodes reaches a consensus on the DID’s validity. As a result of this process, Roam’s WiFi OpenRoaming routers can be considered miners, and anyone can purchase and host one to claim the points it generates.

In general, DID verification is carried out by a machine and can be used for all different types of authorization, besides for logging into WiFi. For example, a DID can be used to prove its holder’s age so they can buy liquor, and a machine functioning as a blockchain node can conduct this verification without exposing the holder’s information to a human or storing/verifying it on a central database

Moreover, the DID-verification process actually involves two pieces of code besides the DID itself: a public key and a private key. Private keys are not held on a blockchain but stored by the user, while a public key, together with the DID itself, is published on a blockchain network whenever the holder needs to prove (e.g authenticate) their identity.

A DID-holder’s device proves the user’s identity by ‘signing’ a message to a verifier with its private key. The verifying nodes authenticate this private key by matching it to the corresponding public key in the blockchain ledger. By cross-checking these keys, the nodes can affirm that they both correspond to the same DID.

This process eliminates the need to enter passwords, since private keys are automatically sent to verifiers, and since public keys remain immutably published on the given blockchain. This mechanism allows for automatic connections to Roam’s global WiFi network when a DID-equipped device comes within range of a Roam miner.

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