On May 22 at Consensus 2017, panelists from Microsoft, uPort, Gem, Evernym, Blockstack, and Tierion announced the formation of the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF).
The DIF is comprised of a multitude of competitive companies across industries with the singular unifying focus to create a universal decentralized state of data that can be accessed by institutions and individuals to verify identity.
Daniel Buchner, head of decentralized identity at Microsoft, kicked off the discussion by announcing the formation of the DIF, its unifying goals, and who it will benefit.
"We know the only way to this is to join hands with these folks," said Buchner. "We all have the same intents and collaborative ideas. We want to make identity real for people, organizations and devices, and I think the thing that I'm most excited about here, is not only the commercial opportunities that opens up, but the fact that it's actually going to be good for people."
Buchner was joined by ConsenSys’ uPort project lead Rouven Heck, Gem founder and CEO Micah Winkelspecht, Chief Trust Officer at Evernym Drummond Reed, Blockstack co-founder Ryan Shea, and founder and CEO at Tierion Wayne Vaughan. Dakota Gruener, executive director at ID2020 moderated the discussion.
The DIF will incorporate a growing group of like-minded companies and people from across the spectrum that are building an open-sourced decentralized identity network, according to Buchner. The panelists discussed concepts which may move identity data storage away from ownership governed by central actors and trusted authorities towards a substrate for decentralized access to services.
The choice to incorporate solutions to decentralized identity on the blockchain was based on trust. Vaughan pointed out that blockchain technology provides a secure decentralized root of trust, which is a tenet of DIF's model.
Another solution currently in development is reliable methods to utilize privacy in biometrics to identify individuals, such as refugees, who live in conditions where it is sometimes impossible to manage paper forms of identity. Bringing identification control to refugees would give them better capabilities to access humanitarian services. Also being developed is a solution called "ChainPoint," a way to link data from existing systems to a transaction on the blockchain with a timestamped proof.
The collaborative effort will explore emerging standards, blockchain interoperability, open source projects, and technical implementation. By pushing the processes which manage identity to the peripherals of the network, the DIF hopes to provide better security for patients and institutions alike.