Microsoft ION digital ID network is now live

Identity Verification

Radical. Microsoft ION is officially in the house, and it may be key to a world where you never have to use a password or username again. This digital ID network is here as a new framework to authenticate online identities.

And it just went live on the Bitcoin network.

Launched by the Microsoft Decentralized Identity team, the ION Decentralized Identifier (DID) network resides on the Bitcoin mainnet. This is a layer 2 technology, similar to Lightning, expect that instead of focusing on payments, it makes use of the Bitcoin blockchain to create digital IDs.

These digital IDs can be used to authenticated identity online.

Closed beta of ION began in June 2020, and the technology is now open to public. It uses the same logic as the Bitcoin transaction layers to sign off on identity. A public key and its associated private key are used to verify that a user owns an ID.

ION Logo

Daniel Bucnher of Microsoft announced this in a blog post, saying:

“We are excited to share that [version 1] of ION is complete and has been launched on Bitcoin mainnet. We have deployed an ION node to our production infrastructure and are working together with other companies and organizations to do so as well. ION does not rely on centralized entities, trusted validators or special protocol tokens. ION answers to no one but you, the community.”

An ID network like ION could pave the way to a future where the web could be unlocked without users having to fumble with passwords, emails, and cell phone verifications.

It is open source, so anyone can download the code and run an ION node to use the service. It also makes use of Sidetree, an open-source protocol for decentralized identifiers built by developers from Microsoft, ConsenSys, Mattr, and Transmute.

Any personal data tied to an ID like name and age is stored off-chain, depending on the service. ION nodes can process up to 10,000 ID requests in a single transaction.

And anyone interested in running ION can do so through a remote node or by downloading it directly on a native device. Microsoft has also developed an API for developers to interact with the service without downloading a node or wallet.

An explorer for looking up DIDs created on the network is also on offer.


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