Daniel Buchner from the Identity team is working with a wide array of organizations on the decentralized identity initiative here at Microsoft. One such organization, Tierion, has just committed to a collboration on attestations, which is described in this post.
The goal of Microsoft’s decentralized identity initiative is to give people and organizations control of their identity and related data. We’re building technology that lets users sign data, claims, or agreements with their identities. These bits of identity-signed data are called attestations. Microsoft and Tierion are collaborating on a service that generates, manages, and validates attestations. Together we’re exploring how this technology serves the needs of developers and organizations.
In the future, you might take an online course and receive an attestation proving you completed the required work. This attestation is digitally signed by the educational organization’s decentralized identifier and a timestamp proof that is rooted in a secure public blockchain. Anyone can verify the identities and validate this data without trusting the signers or their service providers. The blockchain serves as the root of trust. Attestations will be kept in secure datastores that are fully controlled by users. The industry sometimes calls this self-sovereign identity.
How does Tierion fit into this picture? Non-repudiation is important to regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare, and insurance. These organizations need to prove there hasn’t been collusion to backdate or modify data. Tierion links data to the blockchain and generates a timestamp proof of the data’s integrity and existence. Anyone with this proof can independently verify the data without relying on a trusted authority.
Public blockchains such as Bitcoin are exceptionally secure, but slow. The current throughput of the Bitcoin network is about four transactions per second. Tierion solves this scalability problem by cryptographically linking millions of data points to a single transaction. We’re working with Tierion on a service that leverages the open source Chainpoint protocol their team developed for using the blockchain as a trust anchor.
The collaboration between Microsoft and Tierion is another important step in bringing the best blockchain-based tools and services to developers. As we move forward with our decentralized identity initiative, look for more content, collaborations, and announcements in the coming months.