Trust Network developed by & for Banks: Transferable legal underpinnings for online age checks?

Guest contributor: John G Bullard, Global Ambassador, IdenTrust

The Law of Contract between parties is increasingly coming to be seen as the de facto optimal way forward in managing the rights and liabilities, the obligations and entitlements in a world of instant and ubiquitous electronic networks.

A glance back through history reaffirms that, providing national legislation does not specifically discriminate against one form of signature versus another, then parties who are interacting whether face to face, via paper or now electronically , can and should agree upfront the terms and conditions that will govern their relationships- and they would so under the Law of Contract.

It was with this perspective in mind that banks around the world , together with their lawyers, came together and agreed a set of terms and conditions that digital credentials issued to a customer of one bank could be relied upon by a customer of another bank – together with a methodology for managing these liabilities and rights for each party.

That contractual framework, known as the Trust Network, is managed by IdenTrust on behalf of banks and their customers worldwide. Its applicability is domestic within a country or within a sector, and it is cross border/cross sector.

Clear analogies can be made with for example, cheque clearing mechanisms developed in the 19th century , and the Visa/Mastercard global card payment systems developed in the latter part of the 20th century.

This legal and policy framework of the Trust Network has been fully integrated with Technical and Operational Infrastructure, providing a blueprint that is consistent and binding across borders and silos. Financial Institutions, themselves governed by local regulators, issuing digital credentials under the Trust Network model can rely upon their acceptance around the world to enable trusted e-business. This combination of Policy, Legal, Operational and Technological contractual relationships (known as the PLOT) has removed the complexity whilst at the same time offering a much more cost-effective way forward than navigation between disparate “islands of trust”.

We should take the lessons of the past and build upon this (regulated) structure designed for a rapidly changing 21st century, where digital identity not just of “people” but increasingly of “things” is becoming a reality.

This post is part of a series of expert blogs that are being published in the run up to the Online Age Checking: The Time Has Come symposium, which will be held at the British Library on September 22.

Book your place at the upcoming symposium to listen to  a wide range of experts share their views about online age checking and the scope for a data exchange eco-­system  to provide the commercial sector with age attributes (under 18’s)  in a permissioned, privacy enhanced manner, ensuring security of personally identifiable information (PII) at all times.



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