Microsoft has brought up an evolutionary technology, as they announce the completion of ION v1, a Decentralized Identifier (DID) network. Many were waiting for a technology to move away away from the username and password requirements, and this technology has made it a reality.
The technology enables the identification of an entity without being controlled by a third party, as usernames and passwords on servers and can be considered a Layer 2 technology built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain.
The team behind Microsoft Decentralized Identity has stated in their website, “our goal is to put individuals, organizations, and other entities at the center of the apps, services, and digital exchanges that increasingly play a pivotal role in our lives. Among all the technical development required to deliver decentralized identity, none is more important than Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs).”
What is a Decentralized Identifier (DID)?
DIDs are identifiers that can be used to secure access to resources, sign and verify credentials, and facilitate application data exchange. Unlike traditional usernames and email addresses, DIDs are owned and controlled by the entity itself, and exist independently of any external organization or trusted intermediary.
These new identifiers enable entities to prove control over them by authenticating using cryptographic proofs such as digital signatures. Without DIDs, you can’t have a vibrant, interoperable decentralized identity and application ecosystem.
These identifiers can be used to support interactions with other people, institutions, or systems that require entities to identify themselves, or things they control, while providing control over how much personal or private data should be revealed, all without depending on a central authority to guarantee the continued existence of the identifier.
What is ION V1?
ION is an open, permissionless system, anyone can run an ION node, in fact the more nodes in operation, the stronger the network becomes. According to Microsoft, ION does not rely on centralized entities, trusted validators, or special protocol tokens – ION answers to no one but you, the community.
ION uses the same logic as Bitcoin’s transaction layers to sign off on identity. A public key and its associated private key are used to verify that a user owns an ID. Meaning, if ION is used when logging into your social media account, it will be verified by ‘signing’ your DID with your ION account. Due to the cryptography involved, the ION network would verify for the service provider that you own the ID associated with your account.
Project ION DIDs
The project appears to have had considerable developmental firepower behind it, with Casa, Gemini, BitPay, Consensys, Spruce, Cloudflare, Transmute (Element), SecureKey (Orb), Mattr, Workday, Protocol Labs (IPFS), and NCR were the contributors to the project.
Anyone is now free to implement the ION DID technology in their applications and services; the project is open source, designed to be scalable to thousands of operations per second.
Team behind the project have contributed an open source library for generating DIDs and have opened up our ION node to provide a no-hassle option for anchoring ION DIDs as it will help to get DIDs into the hands of users and enable developers to easily integrate ION DIDs in wallets, decentralized apps, and credential-related services.
The launch of v1 of ION has become a crucial milestone success for Microsoft. Daniel Buchner, of the team for Decentralized Identity in Microsoft said that, “we’re still in the early phases of this journey. We have a lot left to do before we can fully realize a better, more trustworthy, more decentralized Web that empowers every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”