We enable a digital society where online participants can be trusted to be real human beings while remaining anonymous.

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PERSONHOOD.ONLINE is an EPFL DEDIS project focused on developing next-generation blockchain and cryptographic technologies to enable a people-centric digital society where online participants can be trusted to be real human beings while remaining anonymous but accountable. Through those technologies, we aim at fostering democracy and creating equal opportunities in the real world by restoring trust on the internet and reshaping social networks and applications.


The combination of next generation blockchain technologies developed at EPFL DEDIS provides for the scalability, privacy and high-availability required for Proof-of-Personhood technology foundations and applications.

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We are exploring a self-sovereign identity management system where passwords are replaced with cryptographic keys, and which provides for zero-knowledge proofs of attributes and sovereignty over data sharing.

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Personhood Parties are real-world gatherings that people attend in person to prove they are real human beings. They can be organised by federations of trusted organisers, and will eventually be coordinated and synchronised. Attendees can then add a personhood attribute to their digital identity.

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Today’s Internet cannot distinguish between real people and fake accounts. This fundamental security weakness is why ​E-mail is still full of spam​. It is why online forums can’t win their ​endless whack-a-mole war against trolls reappearing under false names. It is why social media news feeds are vulnerable to ​bot-fueled propaganda campaigns pushing disruption and fake news. It is why we ​can’t securely vote​, poll opinions, or deliberate democratically online. It is why Bitcoin ​wastes more energy than many countries use productively​. It is why humans feel increasingly irrelevant ​in a bot-vs-bot world​.


One of the main distinguishing features among permissionless cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, is the way they enable open participation in the consensus mechanism while ensuring resistance against Sybil attacks. A trust layer based on Proof-of-Personhood enables consensus mechanisms based on the more egalitarian “one-person-one-vote” principle, instead of Proof-of-Work (PoW) or Proof-of-Stake (PoS). We are testing a prototype crypto-currency based on this principle.

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The processes of gathering, filtering, curating, and disseminating the information needed for a well-informed democratic society is greatly improved by enforcing that participants in this process are all real people, ensuring that no internal or external actors can obtain and wield democratically disproportionate influence on the perceptions, decisions and collective actions of any community. We are looking for business partners to explore relevant use cases.

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Democratic decisions governing a community’s operation and evolution are made through deliberation and decision processes ensuring that no one is disenfranchised from the right to participate – including those who for innumerable reasons may have limited time or ability to participate. Our technologies enable secured and egalitarian solutions powered by the "one-person-one-vote" principle. We have developed an e-voting system used for EPFL internal elections.

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Starting from Bryan Ford' early publications on Delegative Democracy (2002) and Pseudonym Parties (2007), the project has evolved and the EPFL DEDIS team has made significant progress over the last three years in terms of research and development to make the vision of the PERSONHOOD.ONLINE project transform into reality.

Nov 2017

First test Personhood Party

Nov 2018

Test Personhood Party #14

Dec 2018

Launch of PERSONHOOD.ONLINE website

Q1-Q2 2019

Identity Management Prototype


We currently run bi-weekly Personhood Parties on the EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland. Please contact us if you want to attend our parties, or help organise such party in another location.


We are looking for technology partners to strengthen the people-centric trust layer, for industrial partners to explore application use-cases, and financial partners and investors to help us accelerate the development and scaling.

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