Insights & Analyses

Microsoft, Accenture team for blockchain-based open source Decentralized Identity Foundation

June 7, 2017

A group of major companies and startups, including headliners Microsoft and Accenture, have launched the Decentralized Identity Foundation, which aims to leverage blockchain to build an open-source ecosystem for online identities.

The organization builds on Microsoft’s partnership with startup Tierion, originally announced in February, and brings into the fold other key names like Ideo, Gem, Blockstack, Sovrin, Civic, and Netki.

Through the broad consortium, the participants hope the new ecosystem will allow for a standard system for digital identities. In the growing Internet of Things, verifiable, secure IDs for people, organizations apps and devices could enable a decentralized internet where individual users have more control.

With a standardized system, websites, companies and services would all be able to verify that people, devices, companies and more are who they claim to be. And with a decentralized ecosystem, there wouldn’t be a single company or organization controlling the system and acting as a potential gatekeeper.

On the official website promoting the consortium, the DIF explains is goal is to offer decentralized identities anchored by blockchain IDs and linked to zero-trust datastores that are universally discoverable.

Building a decentralized system would not only only create a level playing field and potentially give individuals control over their data, but it could also help prevent hacks, which centralized cloud-based services are vulnerable to.

Getting Microsoft onboard with the DIF is a major boon for the initiative, and it also makes sense for the Windows maker, which has in recent years positioned itself as a privacy-focused competitor to rival Google.

“We want a fully open-source, unencumbered model where your data and your identifiers are yours, and not necessarily lock you into an ecosystem that is specific to us,” Daniel Buchner, Microsoft’s head of decentralized identity projects, explained to Quartz.

The ranks could grow even further and larger, with Coindesk noting this week that IBM is now in talks with and assisting DIF in its efforts.