Microsoft is planning to create an open source, self-owned digital identity system using blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies that will allow people, services, products and apps to interoperate across organizations, blockchains and cloud providers. This will empower people to have control over who can access their personal information and to what extent.
In recent years, with the rise in cloud adoption and digital transformation, the data breaches and identity frauds have become more frequent. Microsoft recently joined the ID2020 Alliance to explore new ways to implement digital technology and create more secure and private identity management. This global public-private alliance is working to help nearly 1.1 billion people in the world, without any legal form of identity.
Today, users allow countless apps and services to have their identity data, which is accessed by numerous providers. Microsoft’s decentralized identity system will give an individual full control/ownership over his/her identity for better privacy, security and control.
“Each of us needs a digital identity we own, one which securely and privately stores all elements of our digital identity. This self-owned identity must be easy to use and give us complete control over how our identity data is accessed and used,” wrote Ankur Patel, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft’s Identity division, in a blog post.
Microsoft is using open source technologies and protocols to develop several key components that can enable decentralized IDs. These components include a W3C specification called Decentralized Identifier, an encrypted identity datastore called Identity Hubs, Universal DID Resolver, and Verifiable Credentials.
These components will be based on public blockchain technology similar to the one used by Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. Microsoft is working with Decentralized Identity Foundation, and a number of other companies and individuals, with same interest.
Microsoft already has an app called Microsoft Authenticator app which is used by millions of people to confirm their identities. The tech giant is planning to add support for new blockchain-based Decentralized Identities to its Authenticator app.
“Microsoft Authenticator will be able to act as your User Agent to manage identity data and cryptographic keys. In this design, only the ID is rooted on chain. Identity data is stored in an off-chain ID Hub (that Microsoft can’t see) encrypted using these cryptographic keys”, Patel explained.
With this added ability, services and apps will be able to communicate with user’s data via a simple messaging conduit just by requesting consent.