Mr. Softy Wants to Make IDs Available to Everyone; Eyes Blockchain as a Solution

Microsoft sees plenty of opportunity in using Blockchain to give people all over the world one of the most important things they need in life– an ID.

Microsoft has not been shy about its optimism regarding how Blockchain can be transformative in many areas.

On Monday, it revealed some details about how it sees Blockchain fulfilling a need that many take for granted, and just as many go without. For whatever reason, many people lack any form of legitimate identification, which can cause all kinds of problems for them.

Recognizing how going without something as simple as an ID card can be devastating, Microsoft is working on a solution.

Let’s go over what Mr. Softy has up its sleeves.

No ID? Blockchain can help

In Davos, Switzerland last month, at the World Economic Forum, Microsoft alerted attendees to findings that nearly one in six people worldwide don’t have IDs. Microsoft also noted that no matter where you live in the world, fundamental rights and services like being able to vote, and/or having access to healthcare, housing and education are tethered to having legal proof of identification.

Alex Simons, the Director of Program Management for Microsoft’s Identity Division, wrote about what the tech giant has been working on in a blog post posted Monday.

Microsoft’s solution is the creation of what it calls “universal access to identity.” To bring this solution to fruition, Microsoft is looking to Blockchain. Simons said the company is “incubating a set of ideas for using Blockchain.”

Microsoft’s efforts began last summer. It was then that it began collaborating with Accenture and Avanade on a Blockchain-based identity prototype on Microsoft Azure.Accenture is a global management consulting and professional services firm that provides strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services. Avanade was founded in 2000 as a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft.

In a blog post about this collaboration, the company stated:

Together, we pursued this work in support of the ID2020 Alliance – a global public-private partnership dedicated to aiding the 1.1 billion people around the world who lack any legal form of identity. To say that we were encouraged by its mission would be an understatement. We were inspired by it.

Digital identities

In Simon’s post, it was noted that Microsoft saw the creation of new types of digital identities, identities designed from the ground up, as ways to enhance personal privacy, security and control.

Simon’s added that those on the project are “pretty excited by what we’ve learned and by the new partnerships we’ve formed in the process.”

To achieve this vision, we believe it is essential for individuals to own and control all elements of their digital identity. 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. - Microsoft

So what better way to accomplish this task than by using Blockchain.

Multi-pronged solution in the works

From that incubation effort mentioned above, Microsoft has honed in on several areas that can help people if they had digital IDs.

They include people being able to:

  • control their identities based on Blockchain technology and protocols that are well suited for enabling Decentralized IDs
  • rely on being able to trust that their IDs are secure based on encrypted digital hubs
  • use apps and services that are built with them at the center because of they are personalized just for them

In conclusion

If all goes as Microsoft plans, this could be a very impactful development for the world. As noted by Forbes:

“A decentralized identity system is not controlled by any single, centralized institution such as a government or large tech company. The idea is that a decentralized identity system removes the possibility of censorship and gives an individual full control over their identity and reputation.”