On August 18 of this year, in this blog, I floated the following thought:
“DNA…is our ‘birth day credential’ (or rather, conception moment credential, but first presented publicly on our birth day). Why do we take a baby’s footprint upon birth, but not their DNA print? Why aren’t DNA prints strongly bound to a digital master of our very first identifier: our birth certificate? Absent that, how can we know for sure whether the person claiming to be Jane Doris Doe for the purpose of applying for a credit card account is in fact the person who was born with a particular DNA print and assigned that name at birth (or assigned a name that they later changed to Jane Doris Doe, perhaps upon marriage or adoption)? If we can’t strongly bind a person’s human name to their DNA at birth, and bind each new name (legally changed) to their previous legal name, always anchoring it all in their birth day credential, then assurance is never strong.”
For the DNA birth day credential (henceforth, BDC) to become a truly global identifier, we would need to put several huge projects on the road to fruition:
• Persuade the entire human race—all governments, religions, cultures, etc—to recognize the primacy of this new identifier
• Get all hospitals, doctors, midwives, and mothers everywhere to promptly take a DNA sample of every newborn (and stillborn?) that emerges from the womb
• Secure the sworn, legal testimony or affidavit of a witness, notary, or some other person who witnessed the birth and DNA sampling of each newborn, attesting for its linkage to a particular baby given a particular traditional birthname and born to a particular woman at a particular day/time/place
• Institute laboratories everywhere that process DNA samples, identify the BDC, and recommend to local birth registrars the issuance of digital birth certificates that cryptographically bind the BDC to the new child’s traditional birth name
• Check the uniqueness of each requested BDC (or, for identical twins, triplets, etc, the uniqueness of their shared BDC) prior to issuance of the BDC birth certificate(s), thereby guarding against BDC fraud
• Issue the BDC certificate, assigning each one a globally unique identifier, and signing the certificate with the birth registration authority’s unique signing key
• Post the BDC certificate to an online registry infrastructure where they can be indexed and searched
• When changes of traditional birthnames are requested, get all governments, courts, religions, etc everywhere to issue namechange certificates that associate the name change to a particular BDC and its globally unique identifier, and to digitally sign the namechange certificate with the namechange authority’s unique signing key
• Post the namechange certificate to an online registry infrastructure where they can be indexed and searched
• Federate this whole infrastructure under global trust, policy, security, legal, regulatory, and treaty relationships among all the world’s nations, peoples, religions, etc.
• And….oh yes…all of us currently alive would need to submit our own DNA for a retro-BDC-ing, to literally populate this unique identification scheme and make it useful/global here and now
I’m probably overlooking some important things that need to happen to make this a reality. I’m not saying it’s practical or feasible or even desirable here and now. Or that the human race is ready for this federated birth registry on some deep cultural level.
I’m still working through all those issues in my head. Or not.