Microsoft launches DID on Bitcoin blockchain
The decenralised identity tool is called ION and was launched as an open source project
Microsoft has announced plans to launch the first decentralised infrastructure identity tool built directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. The timely move from such a pivotal player in the tech sphere is expected to wield significant influence over the industry, with other major players likely to follow suit in opting for decentralised management systems.
The open source project, which is called ION, has been in the works for about a year and deals with the underlying mechanics of how networks communicate with each other. It will also speed things up without losing any of the decentralised features of the blockchain, bringing things up to par with traditional systems, like Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory.
“While blockchains unlock the ability to create highly secure, censorship resistant identity systems, their transactional volumes are severely limited when compared to traditional systems,” Daniel Buchner, a senior program manager for Microsoft Identity Division said in a blog post.
ION will bring a dramatic change to how internet users’ identities are stored and verified, doing away with a centralised authority managing identity information and replacing it with decentralised identifiers on a distributed ledger which will only be accessible to users with private keys. Users can also store their information across several DIDs if they want to.
This is a crucial part of the technology because it puts ownership of identity and access squarely back in the hands of users, something which may not sit well with companies such as Facebook.
Facebook was reportedly invited to participate in Microsoft’s DID projects and community efforts yet declined. Despite a recently softened approach on crypto and blockchain ads and rumours that the company is working on its own fiat-based stablecoin payments platform, it is likely that their goals for blockchain will always lie somewhat parallel to projects like ION.
And while ION runs atop of the Bitcoin blockchain, the company has also announced that it is developing and test running a protocol that can support DID networks as a second layer on any blockchain.
Yorke Rhodes, a program manager on Microsoft’s blockchain engineering team, said that Microsoft’s team has been working for a year on a key signing and validation software that relies on public networks, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, yet can handle far greater throughput than the underlying blockchain itself.
“There are systems that we have at Microsoft that give you permissions in an enterprise context, a project called Active Directory, that we think need to be able to recognise these DIDs as well.
The philosophy of consumer ownership and consumer centricity” are core principles for designing Microsoft’s software going forward,” said Rhodes.