Enterprise

Microsoft testing blockchain-based decentralised identification

Micrsoft testing decentralised identification
(C) iStock.com/stalkerstudent

Microsoft will begin experimenting with decentralised identification in the coming months. In a blog post on its website, the company said that it will be looking into using blockchain-based decentralised IDs on their Microsoft Authenticator app.

The company is aiming for a system where any individual can own and control their digital identity. A blockchain-based system could provide an alternative to the current system where people grant broad access to their identity data to a huge array of apps and services.

Decentralised identification would look to provide a secure and encrypted digital hub where a person can store their personal data and control access to it.

Ankur Patel from Microsoft Identity Division said:

“After examining decentralized storage systems, consensus protocols, blockchains, and a variety of emerging standards we believe blockchain technology and protocols are well suited for enabling Decentralized IDs (DID).”

Potential benefits

This project puts Microsoft into a space already occupied by companies such as Blockstack ID and uPort, both of which are looking to create systems of self-sovereignty and user-centric identity systems.

For Microsoft, a blockchain-based system could potentially have a number of distinct advantages. It would fundamentally change the focus of traditional identity systems, which are centred around authentication and access management. Self-owned identity systems adds authenticity by allowing trust to be built through community attestations.

The system could also allow app developers to process personal information while avoiding the legal and compliance aspects of actually having to own and store it on behalf of the user.

Blockchain technology also creates the potential to scale any system to meet the needs of a global user base.

The company states that there is still some work that needs to be done:

“Some public blockchains (Bitcoin [BTC], Ethereum, Litecoin, to name a select few) provide a solid foundation for rooting DIDs, recording DPKI operations, and anchoring attestations. While some blockchain communities have increased on-chain transaction capacity (e.g. blocksize increases), this approach generally degrades the decentralized state of the network and cannot reach the millions of transactions per second the system would generate at world-scale.

“To overcome these technical barriers, we are collaborating on decentralized Layer 2 protocols that run atop these public blockchains to achieve global scale, while preserving the attributes of a world class DID system.”

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