The dream of anyone and everyone having a fully-owned and fully controlled digital identity may be coming true if Microsoft and its partners succeed at launching the Identify Overlay Network (ION) decentralized Identity system (DID).
This week on Wednesday, the technology and software giant launched ION in beta on the flagship blockchain network Bitcoin. ION is a wholly open-sourced project, however, Microsoft pulls all the stings with participation from other companies and institutions including Casa and the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF). Additionally, despite launching on the Bitcoin network, ION will support independent decentralized nodes to control the use of the ION network.
According to documentation, ION is a DID system that will enable internet users to have more control over their digital identities effectively eliminating the need for centralized solutions such as those provided by Facebook and Google. You may have noticed (if not used) some of these solutions that allow you to log in to third-party applications and websites by providing permissions.
ION is aimed at working the same without the need for centralized parties. This means that individuals will be able to select the amount of information to share with applications and websites, when and how to share it. This has the added advantage of protecting against hackers who create havoc once they hack a database of digital identities.
“ION is one of the foundational components of the next generation of trust online,” Microsoft announced on Wednesday. “Using the Bitcoin blockchain, ION will decentralize the way that messages and application data is encrypted and exchanged. Decentralizing identities brings enhanced security while also, for the first time, giving consumers the ability to own their identifiers such as user or login credentials.”
Daniel Buchner, ION’s project lead at Microsoft said that,
“the core promise of DID technology is to empower all individuals and entities with ownership and control over their identities, which aligns well with our mission of empowering every person to work, play, and achieve more. To deliver on that promise, we have chosen a different path from some of the more centralized approaches to DID technologies—and we believe ION exemplifies that choice.”
Now that ION has launched in beta, the work continues to ensure that the system works as expected while at the same time ensuring that once the network goes live, it will no longer be under any single entity’s control. Microsoft did not provide any timeline for the launch of ION.
“We’re excited to help ION take full advantage of technology like Bitcoin to vastly improve authentication, security, and privacy on the internet,” Casa CEO Nick Neuman commented.