ION, Microsoft’s Bitcoin-Based ID Tool, Goes Live


A beta version of Microsoft’s Bitcoin-based decentralized identity tool went live on June 10.

Microsoft is a member of the Decentralized Identity Tool (DIF), and its latest launch, ION is a tool that can be used as COVID-19 crisis response programs.

Bitcoin Startup Casa Has Collaborated With Microsoft To Create ION.

“We are thrilled to have Casa collaborating on ION with us, which showcases the potential of building real-world applications that leverage the strong foundation Bitcoin provides,” Microsoft project lead Daniel Buchner said in a statement.

“We’re excited to help ION take full advantage of technology like Bitcoin to vastly improve authentication, security and privacy on the internet,” Casa CEO Nick Neuman said in a press release.

ION can create user-controlled logins which are suitable more for independent companies. Although, it has been launched as COVID-19 crisis response programs, but its use is not strictly confined to the health sector. Apart from contract tracing and health certificates, it can be used for various other purposes.

Contract tracing and digital medical records have emerged as two main approaches to create emergency ID measures. Many countries in Asia have combined these two approaches to create high-tech emergency ID measures. However, some people see both approaches as controversial.

Immunity Passports created by many blockchain startups have already created significant controversy.

In May, attorney Elizabeth Renieris resigned from her advisory role at the ID2020 consortium for decentralized ID (DID) creators. She accused the consortium of ignoring human rights and being overly influenced by commercial interests. How secure ION project is? Well, you can compare this open-source project of Microsoft with a coat-check ticket.

A coat-check ticket does not include all the data about the coat (or person); instead, it offers a  Bitcoin-ledger reference number to the data’s chronology. With the help of the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), heavy data is stored between ION nodes. Users of such data have to pay a small fee to bitcoin miners to record the reference number. This is supposed to make things highly interoperable.

All DIF members are trying to make their technologies compatible across use cases and systems. However, not everybody is satisfied with such projects. There are many who believe that privacy features being talked about by DIF members are not full-proof. Harry Halpin, CEO of the Nym, a privacy-tech startup, accuse that they are doing nothing but repackaging previous works.

Halpin, who also happens to be a former employee of W3C, said: “ID2020 is just the latest attempt to violate people’s privacy using feel-good rhetoric. It’s also part of a larger business plan. Microsoft and IBM’s entire bottom line is to build identity systems”. Zcash Foundation researcher Henry de Valence also thinks that “they will not be effective at preventing the spread of disease,”.

“Probably the most dangerous type of information, out of all types of personal information, is location data,” Allen said, explaining contact tracing would require privacy tech at multiple layers, from the app level on the phone to the internet infrastructure someone uses.

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