Microsoft Previews Open-Source, Blockchain-Based Decentralized ID Platform

“ION is built with Sidetree technology that will eventually be laid over the top of the Bitcoin Blockchain, though the code is still being developed…”

Microsoft Previews Open-Source Decentralized ID Platform

Microsoft’s Identity Division is giving developers a preview of a new digital identification network designed to make decentralized identities more feasible on a global scale. Senior Program Manager Daniel Buchner explained the company’s thinking in a blog post announcing the debut of the Identity Overlay Network (ION).

According to Buchner, decentralized identities will give people more ownership of their personal information. Paper IDs like passports and driver’s licenses are generally issued by a government agency (or a comparable private organization), which gives that agency the power to dictate who does and does not receive official documentation. Decentralized identities exist on the blockchain independent of any regulatory agency and are highly resistant to censorship.

The problem is that current blockchain networks can only handle a handful (in the tens) of transactions per second. ION is designed to solve those issues of scale, and will theoretically be able to process tens of thousands of operations in the same timeframe. That, in turn, will make ION robust enough to deal with the high volume of identity verification requests that come through modern networks, giving citizens the ability to create and control their own digital identity.

ION is built with Sidetree technology that will eventually be laid over the top of the Bitcoin Blockchain, though the code is still being developed. Microsoft shared its progress to generate constructive feedback and contributions for the open-source project, which is being built and tested with the help of other members of the Decentralized Identity Foundation.  

If Microsoft is able to deliver on ION’s potential, it would represent a major step forward for decentralized identity technology. In recent years, Microsoft has worked towards decentralized identities through partnerships with companies like MasterCard. Other players like WISeKey and Zighra have also made significant gains in the decentralized identity space.