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Microsoft Eyes Role for Public Blockchains in Decentralized Identities

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Software giant Microsoft has said it sees potential for public blockchains in supporting decentralized identities and will explore the possibilities within its Microsoft Authenticator app.

In a blog post released on Feb. 12, Microsoft’s Identity Division doubled down on its belief that blockchain technology is the right solution to store, maintain, protect and distribute users’ identification information in a tamper-proof and decentralized environment.

Ankur Patel of Microsoft’s Identity Division stated in the post, “Some public blockchains (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, to name a select few) provide a solid foundation for rooting DIDs, recording DPKI operations, and anchoring attestations.”

That said, the company admitted that scaling is a key obstacle before a decentralized ID authentication can be available for millions of users simultaneously. As such the firm explained that it now eyes on developing additional layers to achieve the scaling goal.

“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,” Patel wrote.

For now, the firm will “experiment” with decentralized identities by adding support for them into its Microsoft Authenticator app, which is already used by millions worldwide.

In what could be seen as a dig at Facebook, which is widely and controversially used across the internet for access to different services and sites, the post said:

“Rather than grant broad consent to countless apps and services, and have their identity data spread across numerous providers, individuals need a secure encrypted digital hub where they can store their identity data and easily control access to it.”

The announcement comes less than a month after Microsoft and blockchain alliance Hyperledger joined the United Nation’s ID2020 project, which aims to achieve a secure and verifiable digital identification system that can scale.

As reported, Microsoft donated $1 million to the ID2020 initiative during the World Economic Forum at Davos last month.

Microsoft office building image via Shutterstock

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