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Verifiable Claims and Digital Verification

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CCG Verifiable Credentials for Education Task Force Telecon

Minutes for 2020-03-02

Simone Ravaoli: Hello folks !
Stuart Sutton: I'm getting 408 Request Timeout on connecting to sip
Nate Otto is scribing.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Today we have @Simone_Ravaioli to present about the credential landscape. We're happy to expand our focus beyond what is going on in the US.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Note, we'll eventually start rotating scribes. Watch what ottonomy is doing. Nate is a very good scribe. ;)
Anil Lewis: Anil Lewis present+

Topic: Call Notes

Kim Hamilton Duffy: Check the email agenda for how we use IRC to run these calls and instructions on how to add yourself to the queue. All attendees should type present plus as @snorre just did so that we know you are here. This will get your name on the attendee list and transcript.

Topic: Introductions & Reintroductions

Kim Hamilton Duffy: We have quite a few new people on the call today. If you are new and want to introduce yourself, please add yourself to the queue.
Anthony Camilleri: I'll introduce over chat
Anil Lewis: Sorry i lost connection
Lluís Alfons Ariño: My name is Louis Arinyo. I'm the CIO of a public university in Spain. I am the convener of a use case around the European blockchain service
Anil Lewis: Will redial
Snorre Lothar von Gohren Edwin: My name is __ please type __. I work on a company working out of Uganda, where we are working with schools to build a better way of proving what you have done so that you can be hired.
J. Philipp Schmidt: My name is Philipp Schmidt. I work at the MIT Media Lab but also work with Kim on the Digital Credentials Consortium.
Anthony Camilleri: Hi all. Its super-noisy where I'm sitting so if you don't mind, will introduce over chat. I'm Anthony F. Camilleri, working on implementing the europass digital credentials infrastructure for the European Commission. Happy to meet all of you. I'm at /
Phil_Barker: My name is Phil Barker. I work on several US-led projects. I'm here to hear what Simone_Ravaioli has to say about the credentials landscape in Europe.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: We now have a good 50 minutes for Simone_Ravaioli's topic and Q&A.

Topic: Guest expert Simone Ravaioli discusses European Credentialing Landscape

Simone Ravaoli: [In a dramatic echoing room]. I'll share a link in the chat to a document we can use for reference as we go through what I want to cover.
Simone_Ravaioli [we lost his audio]
Simone_Ravaioli is back
Anil Lewis: Hi My name is Anil Lewis. I am a senior architect in IBM and working on the learner credential network using Hyperledger Indy
Simone Ravaoli: What I wanted to do is take this opportunity to share with the group about the credentialing landscape in Europe, as I have experienced it the last 12-13 years.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Reminder ottonomy, feel free to scribe lightly where the content is captured in Simone's doc
Simone Ravaoli: By no means is this intended to be a comprehensive record of what happened. This is what I've seen. Many of the people on the call have contributed to this work.
Simone Ravaoli: I'll list and quickly address some of the technical specs I've seen surface in Europe over the years. Then I will mention some of the high-level European initiatives that are pertinent to what we are looking at here, as well as some of the more grassroots projects that are relevant.
Simone Ravaoli: Then we will open it up for discussion to see if there are action items for us to take this forward.
Simone Ravaoli: The space is lively, I would say. Some initiatives early on, starting around 2000. The stuff in the document, some of it is ...out of our collective memory of what happened, then moving into more recent stuff.
Simone Ravaoli: The first ones CDM, XCRI are around course metadata, describing what is happening in a course. This was eventually picked up in the UK by JISC, who started to work on another version, which they called the XCRI. At the same time, work was going on in Germany to describe learning content, as well as in Sweden.
Simone Ravaoli: CEN started a project for harmonization, called MLO Metadata for Learning Opportunity. This is where I got involved. If you're familiar with learning in Europe, you're familiar with the Erasmus scheme, which provides funding for student learning. There was a desire to extend the Erasmus experience in a meaningful way.
Simone Ravaoli: This produced a European norm, which was the MLO. Then the issue started to move to adoption. There was some great work that was going to harmonize existing workstreams in Europe, but the traction needed for it to have an impact was not there. Fortunately a group of implementers in the higher education space, SIS vendors, stepped into this conversation and provided the necessary conduit into the market.
Simone Ravaoli: They were able to contribute to the evolution of the specification and inherited a responsibility to take this to market, at least to use it in their systems to support the Erasmus program. MLO was the first proper standard involved in this.
Simone Ravaoli: MLO did relate to another stream of work, EuroLMAI for European Learner Mobility, which really added the achievements piece. These were two standards that became very important for the evolution of this conversation in Europe. The specification work was picked up by grassroots organizations implementing a very bottom-up approach to implement and pilot the specs.
Simone Ravaoli: At the time I was working for a consortium of public universities in Europe. The organizations addressed what went into the interoperability. There were a few pilots, and they looked to adopt the available specifications. This lasted for a few years without much uptake.
Simone Ravaoli: The traction created by some of the vendors raised an issue (for some time it had become a lobbying exercise) to create appropriate funding schemes for this kind of work. Up to them there wasn't much funding within the Erasmus program for technical work (most funding was for research).
Simone Ravaoli: There was a related instrument, Horizon 2020, but it wasn't a good fit for this work.
Simone Ravaoli: At some stage, the European Commission picked up on what was happening, and started to create a couple opportunities for funds to be allocated to this work. The first project was EMREX, supporting the EuroLMAI work. They are similar in effort, but different in how the model was implemented, but they both received two rounds of funding.
Simone Ravaoli: While EMREX was focused on implementing one of the specifications, another effort ELMO was more learner focused, giving learners access to their data.
Simone Ravaoli: This initiative (ELMO) was in favor with leadership and received several rounds of funding and is still with us. There is a technical component of this, which hopefully will be able to implement the technical architecture created through EMREX.
Simone Ravaoli: This was a first approach to keep this credentialing movement together. There was an effort to map ELMO to PESC, to synchronize credentials work between Europe and the US.
Simone Ravaoli: This was not a super sexy thing in the market. But a few of us stuck with it, feeling it was important to support across organizations. People trying to get the interoperability thing done. Paying attention to movers and shakers in North America. This is a global movement. As much as a standard can be made anywhere in the world, adoption becomes an issue.
Simone Ravaoli: How can we crosswalk among standards? We believe there is a piece of work that needs to be addressed there.
Simone Ravaoli: Digital credentials picked up momentum a few years ago, with hype around blockchain. There was a clear use case in education for blockchain. There were many initiatives springing up, and a parallel effort to try to "keep it together".
Simone Ravaoli: I always felt it was important to document what was happening in Europe, also tracking who was supporting initiatives, especially in the European Commission. This brings us to this conversation today, where we hopefully can find the right people to keep these initiatives connected and help with harmonization and crosswalking of these different pieces of work.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: I hadn't realized there was an effort to harmonize with PESC already. We're trying to bring together people who want to harmonize the content of the claim (IEEE). At W3C we've been more focused on the wrapper. +1 to keeping some momentum going for global interoperable standards.
Simone Ravaoli: When you think about Europe, there is an expectation that the European Commission, the higher authorities will do something to stimulate the effort. There are several entities involved.
Simone Ravaoli: The DGs are directors of the different work areas focused by the commission. We have DG for Education, DG for Employment and DG Connect, which is looking at the digital transformation for the Commission.
Simone Ravaoli: Within the DG for Employment, one of the major efforts that is ongoing is the Europass project. Europass is an existing flagship project of the Commission, running for 14 years. It is a portfolio/document platform. This platform has been in open heart surgery for several months now; new version will be published around May.
Simone Ravaoli: This new endeavor involves focus on a new Europass Digital Credentials Infrastructure (EDCI)
Simone Ravaoli: Some of the experts from that effort are on this call. This new specification will be extremely important down the road. Also, as a result of the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure work, that led to 4 different use cases, one of them diplomas.
Anthony Camilleri: That's an excellent way to characterise the difference Simone
Simone Ravaoli: As you've seen this effort can be approached from different angles. If the EDCI is looking at the content of a claim, the EBSI is looking at the envelope for the claim. There is some coordination between these efforts; hopefully they will be able to go forward hand in hand.
Simone Ravaoli: I'll call out in the document a number of projects around EDCI in Europe (feel free to add to this document if you know others). One honorable mention to touch on: an important element of developing the credentialing landscape in Europe was the Rome Student Systems and Standards Group RS3G.
Simone Ravaoli: RS3G was the seat of several projects that followed that. You may have heard of the Groningen Declaration Network, which is now an established initiative with global reach.
Simone Ravaoli: EMREX was originally "RS3G Mobility Project".
Simone Ravaoli: So this is a bit of a slide over what has been happening in Europe. Let me call out my European colleagues on the call. Anyone want to add?
Leonard Rosenthal: Simone, could you comment: One of my biggest concerns is the relation between this work and EIDIS (sp?). WIthout that alignment we can't use these credentials legally in the EU?
Kim Hamilton Duffy: I think Nacho Alamillo is doing a lot of work on that?
Simone Ravaoli: Lots of issues roll up to "identity". Some work has been done on European Blockchain Partnership on Self Sovereign Identity. There is ongoing work to look at that and to see how an SSI layer could be wrapped around this. There are national initiatives and centralized European efforts.
Anthony Camilleri: @Lenoardr if I may supplement this: Europass Digitally Signed Credentials will require signature using an eIDAS compliant digital signature/seal. so all Europass DSC will have legal value from launch in May.
Lluís Alfons Ariño: Within EBSI the so called eIDas bridge is been developed, so for the so called VeID it will be possible to have a trustframework to enabkle legally VCs
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Nacho Alamillo is doing some work in the concept of the European SSI framework and eIDAS specifically around levels of assurance. Looking forward to that.
Simone Ravaoli: The SSI work at the European level is also looking at other similar initiatives, particular what is going on in Canada with the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (sp?). There are more initiatives trying this model and adding the SSI element into it. Certainly Nacho is working on one and presenting soon on a webinar.
Jim_Goodell: Simone, you mentioned one of the projects on the "envelope?" Could you same more about where they are and timing?
Juan Caballero: Nacho is speaking on Alex Preukschat's Webinar series tomorrow!
Simone Ravaoli: One of the use cases under the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure. Can I call on Louis to speak up?
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Thanks Juan!
Simone Ravaoli: Louis is leading this work
Louis (sp?): Yes, Nacho Alamillo is leading this team with EBSI. There is also another project the so called eIDAS Bridge, which will let us link to qualified service providers to sign verifiable credentials. This will let us extend the eIDAS Trust Framework to the Verifiable Credentials landscape.
Juan Caballero: It's Lluís (double-L)
Louis (sp?): EBSI has standardized a "envelope" to containerize and transport information. The contents of the credentials are described using the Europass EDCI standard.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: S/Louis/Lluís
Llúis: On Feb 12 the membership of EDCI was opened for member states. On March 24 there will be a meeting in Brussels where there will be open source software announced and made available on GitHub. then anyone can see what is there and make use of all the code.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: I stumbled across this recently, note VCs as xml:
Snorre Lothar von Gohren Edwin: Is this Github repo he mentioned something that will be linked to somehow?
Llúis: The interoperability between different DLTs... first version of EBSI there are two DLTs (__ and hyperledger fabric), the identity for entities for any DID is based on the Ethereum platform. Another use case: documents to be notarized are on Hyperledger fabric DLT. EBSI is the "envelope" for all these and for how entities should be described in Verifiable Credentials.]
Thank you Llúis !
Llúis: How to describe any educational claim is from the Europass EDCI
Juan Caballero: Sn/orre, I believe the repos go public later?
BlazPodgorelec: Here is one point missed so far, Main Digital Europe for All, which is going to implement a pilot across four universities in Europe. One main point is the bridge between eIDAS bridge to Self-sovereign identities.
Juan Caballero:
BlazPodgorelec: There is also CDCX which is piloted in four universities in different countries; implements blockchain ERC721 token
Anthony Camilleri: @Blazpodgorelec is the ERC-721 initiative linked to credentify/0xcert?
Error: (IRC nickname 'blazpodgorelec' not recognized)[2020-03-02T16:54:14.463Z] <BlazPodgorelec> @AnthonyFCamilleri
Simone Ravaoli: BlazPodgorelec this is great. In the last couple years there has been an outburst of different initiatives funded by different instruments of the EC. Maybe you could add it to the document I shared. This may create a huge list of initiatives, that have the one feature to be connected to funds from the Commission. I think there is a sustainability issue. They create pilots that go well in a network, but how to scale and make interoperable!
Juan Caballero: EIDAS for people listening in, is a little uneven from country to country. Countries that have been investing in a lot of eIDAS compliant infrastructure all along (and have eIDAS contractors and companies and private sector parties willing to experiment) are at the forefront of this (Spain). Germany is desperate to catch up and is funding at the federal level companies to catch up (or "meet them halfway"). Hopefully this will be less uneven
A few years from now.
Juan Caballero: It's not me!
WHo was that last on the queue?
Juan Caballero: That was me
(Oh, it is just the noise that is not you)
Kim Hamilton Duffy: AnthonyFCamilleri might not be able to talk over voice, but I did find.. some people were asking about GitHub repos referenced, and I found the link above.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: What I found really interesting is that they are expressing VCs as XML instead of the JSON and JSON-LD expressions we have broadly seen. VC is just a data model, so it is valid to express in XML. As we start moving forward, are we going to find communities or systems who find this easier to express as XML because they're more familiar with it, or the time to take to port their existing systems to JSON might be more work.
Anthony Camilleri: I will add on this, reason for expressing VCs as XML is that eIDAS signatures only support standards for signature as XML for signatures embedded in the filed (XADES standards). There is no eIDAS JSON standard.
Anthony Camilleri: @Kim that is our official repo of the project
Kim Hamilton Duffy: I'm curious if anyone can provide more context on that repo or project.
Anthony Camilleri: An Interoperability portal will be linked to go on with it in the coming weeks
@Larinyo can you share some info with me about eIDAS Bridge? pls
Leonardr_: Anthony is correct that at this moment there is no JSON signature standard. We have an early draf of a JADES (sp?) standard, but today you would not be able to do it in JSON because there isn't a standard yet.
Thinking about a case where a universal JSON wrapper that could carry an encoded XML payload.
Anthony Camilleri: @Leonardr would love to follow up about this work off call. Would appreciate if you drop me a line (
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Yes, that's a struggle that we are encountering. For JSON-LD there is a set of signature suites. For people using JSON, they typically use JWT for signatures. The format and signature suites are part of what might be making them more comlicated.
Leonardr_: None of those JSON-based things have been standardized in the context of the European Commission
Juan Caballero: +1
Current work for the actual revision of the eIdas standard (just started) & eIdas bridge
Reach me at
Simone Ravaoli: A couple more things as we close the hour. Arguably, speaking on the EDCI data model, that is the official github and it is open for people logging issues. Some of the issues I hope people should log are issues that we'd hope people would resolve in the next version of EDCI
Simone Ravaoli: It would be good to have a mapping exercise, similar to what EdMatrix or what Credential Engine competency mapping work has done.
Simone Ravaoli: I would start from the 3 that are relevant and being used.
Juan Caballero: EDCI + EBSI + EMREX
Juan Caballero: (Are the 3 he said to start from)
Simone Ravaoli: Another action item: involve experts who are not yet involved in this call to deep dive into topics that we touched on like EDCI, EMREX.
(Thanks @juancaballero )
Juan Caballero: (It takes a village, @ottonomy ;D )
T3 Innovation Network is also doing cross-standards mapping...follow-on from the Credential Engine mapping.
Simone Ravaoli: Look at the issue globally, understanding that there are two epicenters.
Anthony Camilleri: Happy to give one at a future meeting :-)
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Those are great suggestions. One: the mapping similar to Edmatrix -- there is a lot of meaty efforts that are mature. But there are other efforts described here that we don't have equivalents of in North America. +1 to have a deep dive on EDCI (the others as well). But EDCI is making design decisions and actually building a verifiable credential. We could benefit a lot from that conversation.
ACTION: kimhd to book @AnthonyFCamilleri to speak on a future call.
Simone Ravaoli: Thx @AnthonyDCamilleri
Kim Hamilton Duffy: There are also efforts in Singapore that would be good to bring into the conversation.
Juan Caballero: Thx @AnthonyDCamilleri ! looking forward
Lluís Alfons Ariño: Sorry guys, I have to commute to another meeting
Kim Hamilton Duffy: Thanks to Simone to presenting in and bringing in other experts.
Kim Hamilton Duffy: To folks outside of Europe, this can seem like an alphabet soup of acronyms, thanks for making sense of it and showing relations.