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After efforts lasting up to a year to bring a breakthrough in the current architecture used to store internet users’ identities, Microsoft has announced a sneak-peek preview into its latest decentralized identifier system.
The Sidetree-based DID network, called Identity Overlay Network (or ION) is a Bitcoin blockchain-based system, which conforms to an emerging group of open standards, and is aimed at making a stark difference in the throughput of DID systems, making it run tens of thousands of operations by the second.
In a blog post, Alex Simons, VP of Program Management, has made the objective behind this step very clear, reaffirming their belief:
“[E]very person needs a decentralized, digital identity they own and control, backed by self-owned identifiers that enable secure, privacy preserving interactions. This self-owned identity must seamlessly integrate into their lives and put them at the center of everything they do in the digital world.”
Microsoft aims to get rid of the centralization of identity management, and intends to replace these with decentralized identifiers, stored on a distributed ledger, which puts users at a position to create and control all aspects of their identity. Different DIDs will store different aspects of he information, and only users can access ledgers, with their special private keys. This makes the data secure, and removes any fear of data or identity security concerns. The ION team intends to create DID networks as a second layer, placed on the blockchains that exist as of now, which will, no doubt, boost performance.
While Identity Hubs has not been able to meet the performance characteristics in terms of encrypted storage of personal data, there are other methods to ensure this that are being looked into. Microsoft is currently working with Equinix for datacenter operations, Cloudflare for security solutions, and Casa, which provides hardware and software solutions in terms of Bitcoin security. Learning Machine is also on board for records solutions, and Civic provides open source identity verification ecosystem. Microsoft has also brought a number of ecosystem partners on board, for further development.
Microsoft’s senior program manager, Daniel Buchner, has made it clear that there is more to come, stating:
“We’re also engaging with ecosystem partners to operate ION nodes. Collaborating with partners to validate the protocol and build out the network is an essential step in preparation for mainnet release.”
The early preview, being hosted on the Microsoft Azure architecture can be reviewed by experienced developers, as well as those looking to interact with an ION node. Another important detail is the fact that Microsoft has made its DID projects open source, which welcomes individual contributors and organizations to provide solutions and suggestions.
Meanwhile, the ION network is available now on Bitcoin testnet.
Microsoft, being a huge player in the global market, could cause a shift in the way data management works, especially with its plans to expand identity products.
This is a huge step towards the protection of user identity and data, especially in a time when data security is among the chief concerns of users. With the implementation of blockchain in this domain, it makes a strong statement about the place of blockchain within the technology sector, and promises a bright future, possibly bringing more applications to the forefront.
In addition, it is a huge win for users, as it brings a certain amount of control to the uses, as far as personal information is concerned. The coming months will see the final grand reveal of ION, and it remains to be seen how effective this new system proves to be.