The decentralized identity system, called ION, has officially been released by Microsoft this week.
Microsoft’s decentralized identity system ION has been moved to Bitcoin’s mainnet for the Beta testing on Wednesday. By creating the ION system, the global tech giant aims to “shift ownership and control of identity and personal data back to individuals”.In other words, the company works toward its idea to provide users with a decentralized identifier (DID), that could replace currently used usernames.
As the member of Microsoft identity team Daniel Buchner revealed in his post, the tech giant hopes to release the final version of ION this fall. The project that was first announced back in May 2019, is a decentralized network designed to operate independently from any intermediaries, including Microsoft itself.
What is a decentralized identifier?
In general, the decentralized identifier (DID) is a tool that enables a cryptographically verifiable decentralized digital identity. The goal of it is to make a decentralized identity possible and to replace current identifiers like usernames, email addresses.
Since the latter identifiers are controlled and stored by the companies or centralized entities, users have less and less privacy. With access to vast amounts of private information, companies are able to use it for their own financial purposes, not to mention the fact that such confidential information might be leaked and used for identity thefts.
In the meantime, DIDs are generated, owned, and controlled by individuals. The user-owned unique identifier is tied to a set of cryptographic keys and routing endpoints to prove ownership. Instead of logging into accounts by entering usernames, both individuals and companies could use a decentralized identifier, that proves their ownership.
According to the official statement, the ION is an open-source, Layer 2 network, that does not rely on utility tokens, trusted validator nodes, nor on any additional consensus mechanism:
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.
The company further announced that the move to Bitcoin mainnet for public beta testing is a major step for the project. Microsoft yet expects to grow the community of early adopters, code contributors and node operators and tot the feedback and implement improvements till the release of the final version in autumn.