Microsoft’s cloud computing service, Azure, announced the development of a sidetree protocol-based DID network, called ION (Identity Overlay Network) which runs atop the bitcoin blockchain based on an emerging set of open standards the software firm has developed working with its partners in the Decentralized Identity Foundation. It’s at a preview stage of development.
The big picture is to move towards a decentralized, digital identity people own and control, backed by self-owned identifiers that enable secure, privacy preserving interactions. It’s also a scaling up of a related Microsoft project Identity Hubs, which provide secure, encrypted storage of personal data that rely on decentralized systems (blockchains and distributed ledgers) to anchor their identifiers. Unfortunately, those systems have not had the performance characteristics required to power a truly worldwide decentralized identity system.
ION is a public, permissionless, Decentralized Identifier (DID) network that implements the blockchain-agnostic sidetree protocol on top of bitcoin (as a ‘Layer 2’ overlay) to support DIDs/DPKI (decentralized public key infrastructures) at scale. The approach greatly improves the throughput of DID systems to achieve tens-of-thousands of operations per second.