On a quest for democracy and privacy: Unveiling Rarimo’s Freedom Tool with Lasha Antadze

In an era where digital innovation intersects with democratic processes, Rarimo’s latest development — the “Freedom Tool” — aims to shake up the landscape of electoral systems. 

Rarimo introduced a digital identity protocol designed to revolutionize how we think about voting and personal privacy. This zero-knowledge-based voting platform allows for the creation of secure, tamper-proof voting systems where individuals can freely express their opinions without the concern of privacy invasion or authoritative repercussions. 

Unlike traditional voting mechanisms, the Freedom Tool leverages blockchain technology and identity management to ensure each vote is anonymous and verifiable. 

Rarimo co-founder Lasha Antadze spoke to crypto.news about the origins of the Freedom Tool, how it combats election fraud, and the importance of upholding democracy and personal freedom.

The Freedom Tool seems to be a groundbreaking application for anonymous elections and polls. How did the idea come about, and what motivated the Rarimo community to develop this solution?

Antadze: Identity is critical to the vast majority of online interactions, but web3 was missing an identity layer, so we wanted to provide that. However, we also wanted to embed privacy into this layer. Identity cannot function without it, and ZKPs allowed us to overcome the identity limitations of blockchain – chiefly that everything on-chain is visible to anyone and everyone. Voting is a great example of where you need to prove your identity but retain your privacy but it is only one of many such use cases. 

With over 64 elections worldwide in 2024, how do you envision Freedom Tool addressing issues like electoral fraud, voter intimidation, and control over the ballot in various countries?

Freedom Tool enables polling and voting that is not only surveillance-free but also citizen-run. Communities are free to set their own electoral terms, defining which candidates are on the ballot and who is able to vote. In regions where opposition is barred from running and minority groups systematically excluded from voting, this capability will shift power back towards the people. The Freedom Tool represents a class of technology designed not merely as an enhancement or a patch to the shortcomings of existing systems. Instead, it’s conceived as a parallel solution, fundamentally aimed at ensuring the basic human right to free speech.

The first on-the-ground implementation will be in an Eastern European regime. Can you elaborate on the challenges in implementing the tool in such regions and the potential impact on opposition and minority groups?

In totalitarian environments, the Freedom Tool enables opposition to survive. In the Eastern European country where the first Freedom Tool implementation is launching, it will provide one of the few safe avenues for dissent. This not only gives dissidents a voice but also allows them to organize and unite. The polling and voting capabilities can be used for anything from electing an opposition leader to defining the central issues to focus on. Critically, the sentiment it reflects and the number of users it attracts will assure dissidents that they are not alone and embolden them to continue fighting. 

In what ways does the Freedom Tool align with Satoshi Nakamoto‘s original vision of empowering individuals and decentralizing power, extending beyond finance to embrace personal identity and liberty?

Freedom Tool is a continuation of Satoshi’s goal to place power into the hands of the people. Blockchain’s journey began with separating money and state, and Freedom Tool aims to extend this principle to identity, which is equally essential for individual liberty in the modern era.

Can you elaborate on the key features of Freedom Tool and how it leverages blockchain technology and zero-knowledge identity management for secure and anonymous voting?

With Freedom Tool, citizens prove their eligibility by scanning their biometric passports with their phones. The data on the biometric chip inside the passport is verified, and upon confirming authenticity, an anonymous voting pass is issued. The citizen then uses this pass to cast their vote. Zero-knowledge cryptography is used to sever any link between the voting pass and the passport data so that the two cannot be paired. When the ID and the voting pass cannot be paired, neither can the citizen and their vote. 

The passport data never leaves the mobile device used for scanning. This means the data never passes through a server and there are no points where it could be intercepted. As well as protecting citizens from surveillance, Freedom Tool uses blockchain to protect votes from rigging. All votes are published directly onto the blockchain where they are both tamper-proof and publicly auditable. 

The election ballots run as smart contracts on the blockchain where the criteria around who can vote and on what subject can be pre-defined. The ballots can be submitted by anyone onto a network but require a support threshold to become active. A more detailed technical description can be found in our white paper.

The integration of the Freedom Tool in an Eastern European regime implies a direct involvement in political processes. How does the Rarimo community navigate potential challenges or opposition from governments when implementing such tools?

A ‘freedom tool’ is a piece of technology with an open-source foundation, allowing anyone worldwide to use and modify it for various purposes, from political to commercial. There’s no mechanism for its contributors or others in the ecosystem to control or halt its evolution.

The incentives for ground-level implementation are driven by the actors who discover the tool and, ideally, align with the original vision behind its creation. It’s crucial to understand that the developers of this tool do not pursue any political agenda through their technological contributions. Their core belief centers on individual empowerment and the belief in freedom of speech.

RariMe, the MetaMask Snap introduced by Rarimo, focuses on digital identity management. How does this integration align with Rarimo’s broader vision of a decentralized and privacy-focused internet?

The macro vision is to ensure that users are in control of their digital identities. Freedom Tool is only one of the many identity solutions built with Rarimo that put privacy and identity ownership back into the hands of the individual. 

The MetaMask Snap is another. It integrates self-sovereign identity into the broader web3 ecosystem, allowing users to store their own credentials and maintain control over how they’re used, generating ZKPs for them on demand. This strikes a contrast to the current web2 identity model, which forces us to rely on centralized identity providers.

Considering the rapidly evolving landscape of blockchain technology and digital identity, what future developments or enhancements does Rarimo have in the pipeline to further revolutionize the space?

The core innovation at the heart of Freedom Tool was ZKPs for biometric passports. This introduces a privacy layer to one of the most universal forms of identity: passports. 

Voting is only one of many instances where you might want to prove your age or citizenship and know that there is no chance any of your personal information will be accessed or leaked. There are a range of use cases for this technology that the Rarimo community plans to build out. 

More generally, Rarimo is a layer for universal access and verification of digital identities. The protocol provides a structured method for third-party apps to connect and verify info from a range of issuers. We plan to continue bringing interoperability to the decentralized identity space so that users can seamlessly port their identities across web3.

The Rarimo ecosystem is founded on the principles of self-sovereignty and self-managed identities, utilizing blockchain, Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), zero-knowledge technology, and various decentralized identity standards to ensure users have control over their online presence. 

Its development is highly horizontal and collaborative. This approach personally excites me as I see innovative, non-defi-related applications arise from combining decentralized identity with blockchain technology.

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