Verifiable Cred V1.1 Normative

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1.4 Conformance

The key words MAY, MUST, MUST NOT, RECOMMENDED, and SHOULD in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

A conforming document is any concrete expression of the data model that complies with the normative statements in this specification. Specifically, all relevant normative statements in Sections 4. Basic Concepts, 5. Advanced Concepts, and 6. Syntaxes of this document MUST be enforced. A serialization format for the conforming document MUST be deterministic, bi-directional, and lossless as described in Section 6. Syntaxes. The conforming document MAY be transmitted or stored in any such serialization format.

A conforming processor is any algorithm realized as software and/or hardware that generates or consumes a conforming document. Conforming processors MUST produce errors when non-conforming documents are consumed.

This specification makes no normative statements with regard to the conformance of roles in the ecosystem, such as issuers, holders, or verifiers, because the conformance of ecosystem roles are highly application, use case, and market vertical specific.

Digital proof mechanisms, a subset of which are digital signatures, are required to ensure the protection of a verifiable credential. Having and validating proofs, which may be dependent on the syntax of the proof (for example, using the JSON Web Signature of a JSON Web Token for proofing a key holder), are an essential part of processing a verifiable credential. At the time of publication, Working Group members had implemented verifiable credentials using at least three proof mechanisms:

  1. JSON Web Tokens [RFC7519] secured using JSON Web Signatures [RFC7515]
  2. Data Integrity Proofs [DATA-INTEGRITY]
  3. Camenisch-Lysyanskaya Zero-Knowledge Proofs [CL-SIGNATURES].

Implementers are advised to note that not all proof mechanisms are standardized as of the publication date of this specification. The group expects some of these mechanisms, as well as new ones, to mature independently and become standardized in time. Given there are multiple valid proof mechanisms, this specification does not standardize on any single digital signature mechanism. One of the goals of this specification is to provide a data model that can be protected by a variety of current and future digital proof mechanisms. Conformance to this specification does not depend on the details of a particular proof mechanism; it requires clearly identifying the mechanism a verifiable credential uses.