W3C Credentials Community Group - Initial Proposal Draft

This is a placeholder post for formal work we need to do to set up a Co-op credentials sub-group within the W3C CCG. It is a well defined process beginning with a ‘work item’. We could follow the example set by the “Verifiable Credentials for Education Task Force” who started with a similar proposal.

The w3c protocol for creating a work item gives lots of guidance. It will involve the creation of a github repo with some standard content. Here is a list of the CCG’s previous work items: community/work_items.md at master · w3c-ccg/community · GitHub

We should ensure that all 3 of our co-ops are represented at w3c CCG, following the sign-up process, which is now fixed, but clunky!: https://www.w3.org/community/credentials/

It’s important we show that there are multiple organisations involved in this … the more the better. Also, there will be a reporting burden associated with this later on, so we will need to think about the timing. We are all so busy right now.

The proposal stage is pretty easy though. These are the key questions to address:

  • Explain what you are trying to do using no jargon or acronyms.
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of the current practice?
  • What is new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • How are you involving participants from multiple skill sets and global locations in this work item? (Skill sets: technical, design, product, marketing, anthropological, and UX. Global locations: the Americas, APAC, Europe, Middle East.)
  • What actions are you taking to make this work item accessible to a non-technical audience?

Update: I attended this week’s meeting which was heavily concerned with alignment (or conflict!) between the VC approach to creds and prior ISO work on the mobile drivers’ licence. No space on the call for us just yet. Let’s follow the work item proposal process offline and then schedule in a presentation later.

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I joined the CCG call tonight and was warmly welcomed by Manu Sporney and the others at the start of the call, which was mostly a reflection on inter-op issues raised at IIW (internet identity workshop) the previous week. I did a quick into to our work on co-op credentials. Manu and the Meeting Chair were enthusiastic and are looking out for our proposal in the above template.

I have drafted it ready to go as ‘work in progress’ below. It would be great to release it while they are still working on the minutes of the session.

New Work Item Proposal - Co-operative Credentials (WORK IN PROGRESS)

See W3C-CCG New Work Item Process



Nick Meyne - Resonate Co-operative - nmeyne (Nick Meyne) · GitHub (lead for this proposal stage)
Angus McLeod - The Pavilion Co-Operative - angusmcleod (Angus McLeod) · GitHub
(plus other representatives from Fairbnb.coop - to be added in due course)

1. What we are doing

We have established a consortium of three co-operatives to build an inter-cooperative ecosystem, based on common membership and resource exchanges between co-operatives. We plan to do this through a “Co-operative Credential” for every co-operative member inside the ecosystem. An SSI “tell us once” approach will enable opportunities for reduced friction and privacy-respecting cross-selling between co-operatives.

We feel there is a need for an open, organising focus for agreeing VC technical standards across the co-operative sector that is both vendor neutral and focused on the unique needs and values of the co-operative movement. If approved, following the example of the Verifiable Credentials for Education Task Force, we would like to target the creation of a chartered task force activity at W3C. This will include pursuing data model recommendations that will demonstrate alignment with the VC model, usage guidelines, and best practices.

The group will explore the use of verifiable credentials with:

  1. other co-operatives globally, on co-operative use cases;
  2. other task forces which may share similar use-cases or challenges (VC-EDU);
  3. W3C inter-operability activities that could engage the co-operative sector and movement; and
  4. ecosystem governance activities

2. How is it done today

Co-operatives often use commercial federated identity management systems from large scale providers and expensive IDPs. Commercial third parties sometimes do not share co-operative values in respect of data transparency (data brokerage behind the scenes), lack of control by users over their data and the proliferation of identifiers in the commercial marketplace. Co-operatives will continue to use existing standards (oauth2) to increase convenience for users by negotiating bilateral single sign on, in an effort to improve ‘portability’ of credential information, but Community Credentials can add open standardisation of privacy-respecting digital credentials and the multilateral opportunity to build a web of trust relationships.

3. What is new

We believe that utility and usability at scale are the key tests of an SSI ecosystem. Our initiative will bootstrap at some scale, launching to the existing membership bases of the founding co-operatives while inviting other co-operatives to adopt and work on inter-operability.

We believe that [co-operative principle #6 - “co-operation among co-operatives” (Cooperative identity, values & principles | ICA) will enable us to make faster progress on common credential definitions, use cases and trust issues. Co-ops are wired to collaborate; commercial enterprises, particularly large ones, are wired to compete. We think that ‘community’ can serve well as an anchor of trust in any complex identity ecosystem and that the democratic experience of the co-operative movement could bring innovative solutions to the technical governance ‘stack’.

4. Diverse involvement - skills, locations, ethics, needs and demographics:

We are a consortium of three ethically-motivated co-operatives, with a truly global membership (Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa). We believe we are well placed to seed standards-building and grow inter-operability rooted in the co-operative principles. We are working with global and national co-operative associations such as ICA and in particular Platform.Coop.

Our three founding co-ops are beginning with a specific use-case that will bring together the domains of ethical and sustainable tourism, fair rewards in the music and arts community and open-source community software development. We have applied for and won funding for our work with the Next Generation Internet European Self-Sovereign Identity Framework Lab ESSIF-Lab, Business Open Call 2 and are reaching out to other organisations (including other co-operatives) within the EU NGI community.

5. Accessibility to a non-technical audience:

We have created a landing site, and private community focused on the product aspects of Co-operative Credentials. We are actively inviting relavant stakeholders to participate, and we’re canvasing their views on Co-operative Credentials via stakeholder surveys.

We engage widely with other co-operatives on social media, however the global co-operative membership has a greater proportion of financially, socially, educationally and politically disadvantaged members than the corresponding representation in the customer base of the global social platforms. We know that ‘show’, rather than ‘tell’ works best for these communities and that we will need to work hard on inclusion and accessibility.

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@Nick_M Looks great! Glad we’ve got a good response from the group so far. Thanks for taking this forward.

I’ve made some minor edits (mostly grammatical). On the substance front I think we should be clear that we’re not expecting the co-operative credential to perform authentication, i.e. as a replacement for federated authentication services. This might need to be clarified a bit in the “How it’s done today” portion. Currently the implication seems to be that this credential will replace those services. It may do, but that’s definitely a few years down the track.

Agreed. Thanks Angus! Edits above made and also clarification on scope… and applied to Co-operative Credentials - Sub-group and Topical Call - DRAFT · Issue #215 · w3c-ccg/community · GitHub

@marco @federico @Jonathan_Fairbnbcoop Let me know if you have github usernames that I could add in to the Owners section of the proposal.

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my username is Federicopvs

Thanks Federico! Proposal updated. Good follow up discussion on the W3C call tonight. They used our proposal as an example in the discussion on getting a working group work item proposal on the way to approval. The W3C CCG chairs really like what we are suggesting. Adding supportive comments on the github issue, from folks from multiple organisations, would be a great way to build momentum.


We have just had a very warm welcome and strong support for our proposal to establish a W3C task force on co-operative credentials

Our approved w3c work item will kick off soon. Let’s hope this new task force can become a open, non-proprietary and technically excellent place for co-operatives to engage on verifiable credentials (schemas, protocols, crypto). Thanks in particular to Christopher Allen, Manu Sporny, Heather Vescent and Mike Prorock for their strong support of our proposals.

Initially they will just set up a repo for us, but it would be good to schedule a kick-off call in a few weeks time, by which time we may have recruited some other co-op folks to attend.

Special thanks to @angus for staying up very late for the call!

@Jonathan_Fairbnbcoop feel free to highlight this important step to Trebor and the key players at platform.coop

@angus shall we post something on https://community.coops.tech/ about this?

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Awesome! Great work Nick!

I wonder if we can use this community to manage the group from the get go?

Yup, I’ll post on coops.tech soon. Wanted to get that website stuff done first.

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Here is a bit of extra copy drafted for the Resonate newsletter today:

Giant corporations have hoovered up our identity information and supposedly ‘safeguarded’ it for us in corporate castles: Facebook, Google, Apple and Spotify, for listeners. They made it all too easy. But hacks and breaches have exposed more and more of these consumer data hoards and we’re all exposed to sneaky surveillance and platform capitalism.

Resonate and Pavilion have been committed to an open, standards-based approach to identity management and privacy - aka ‘digital dignity’. We think co-operatives, co-operating, could make a stand against the big corporates.

The folks at w3c form the open institution that governs the web for openness, interoperability, and vendor neutrality. They care about the erosion of privacy, greedy monetization of technologies and corporate dominance. They are on our side. There is a new wave of identity and privacy standards that can help citizens to fight back, but we need to prove these to be useable and useful at scale, with collaboration and inter-operability.

Resonate has been early to adopt a thing called ‘self sovereign identity’: it puts YOU back in control of the information about YOU. ‘Verifiable Credentials’ is the web standard that helps.

Resonate has been working with Pavilion and Fairbnb.coop to make this standard a reality for co-operatives. We went to w3c and asked them if we could work with them to ensure that co-operatives everywhere, not just our consortium, can access and shape the best technical guidance and thinking on this key technology and how to get the best of it.

w3c Credentials Community Group loved our proposals and we are now on the way to making a Common Co-operative Membership a reality.

Hi All … meet Juan https://www.linkedin.com/in/juan-caballero
who is a colleague from W3C CCG and from Essif-lab BOC1 and 2.
He’s also going to be in Berlin around the Platform.coop event, so maybe there is a chance to hook up with him?

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I gave a short update on Co-operative Credentials for the W3C CCG call today. Mentioned:

  • our work on co-op stakeholder engagement and said there were further co-ops interested in joining our work
  • the PCC (platform.coop) event and the interest in standardisation of coop creds
  • we are working on use cases and problem(s) definition
  • we will be ready to kick off some initial group discussions in the new year
  • mentioned the use case area of secure sharing / referrals for marketing
  • Heather Vescent (group co-chair) said she will set up our repo this week. Supportive comments from others on the call.
  • Mike Prorock asked in the chat about implications for farming co-operatives (I think about this:
    Co-ops: A Key Part of Rural America | USDA) … rather than this:
    https://www.farm.coop/ - we should get back to him to clarify and perhaps link in with the great work that the Open Food Network and Coopcircuits are doing: @Rachel_Arnoud
  • Kerrie Lemoie of the VC-EDU group reported back - link to deck. Many interesting parallels with topic areas for co-op credentials (see this white paper)
    Open Badges v2.0 JSON-LD for educational badges - GitHub - IMSGlobal/openbadges-specification: Specs related to Open Badges
    – Interesting work on standards for paper-based, sms and QR code creds for those who don’t have smartphones or wallets
    – An open source educational wallet is in the works… must find out what / where / who

Next week’s meeting is the last of the year and includes a W3C leadership visit to this working group

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Great work nick :+1: