World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)which is an international organization sets standards for the World Wide Web, Declare that Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v1.0 is now an official web standard.
This new type of verifiable identifier, which does not require a central registry, will enable individuals and organizations alike to have greater control over their information and their online relationships while providing greater security and privacy.
The Decentralized Identifier (DID) is a simple 3-part string:
1) DID URI schema identifier
2) DID method identifier, and
3) Special DID method identifier pic.twitter.com/sfXyPiQiZE
– BitKE (BitcoinKE) October 7, 2022
There is a historical counterpart to this ad in the evolution of mobile phone numbers. These were originally owned by the carrier and “rented” to the individual. This requires individuals to change numbers if they change carriers. With the adoption of mobile number portability, individuals can now “take their numbers with them” when switching between carriers.
The same is true for most email addresses and social networking addresses today – they are not “owned” by individuals and must be changed if an individual changes providers. By contrast, decentralized W3C IDs can be controlled by the individuals or organizations that create them, are transferable between service providers, and can persist as long as their controller wishes to continue to use them.
What’s more, DIDs have a unique property to enable the controller to verify the ownership of the DID using encryption. This can enable any DID controller – an individual, an organization, an online community, a government, an IoT device – to engage in trustworthy transactions over the Internet. For individuals in particular, DID can put them back in control of their personal data and consent, as well as enable more respectful two-way trust relationships where fraud is prevented, privacy is honored, and usability is enhanced.
Essentially, decentralized identifiers are a new type of global, unambiguous identifier that can be used to identify any subject (eg a person, organization, device, product, location, or even an abstract entity or concept). Each DID turns into a DID document that contains the coding material and other metadata for DID control. The main pillars of the DID specification are:
- DID does not require a centralized (decentralized) issuing agency
- DID does not require continued functioning of an underlying organization (ongoing)
- DID control and associated information can be cryptically demonstrated (verifiable)
- DID metadata can be discovered (solvable)
Markets That Adopt DID
Decentralized W3C IDs, along with W3C verifiable credentials, are used across a number of markets where identification and data validation are a concern:
- Governments The United States, Canada, and the European Union are exploring the use of DIDs to provide privacy-protecting digital identity documents to their businesses and residents, which enables these entities to choose how and when their data is shared
- retailers Convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and consumer goods companies in the US are using DIDs for new digital age verification programs to increase privacy, speed checkout, and combat the use of fake identity documents when purchasing age-restricted products.
- Stakeholders in the supply chain DIDs are used by global government regulators, trade standards organizations, sellers, shippers and retailers to explore next-generation systems that more accurately verify the origin and destination of products and services, and which will simplify and enable reporting designed to apply correct tariffs, prevent dumping and monitor re-shipment
- Man power Universities, job training programs, and education standards institutions adopt DID in order to issue digital learning credentials that are controlled and shared by the graduate when applying for higher education or workforce positions
Work continues at W3C
W3C, made up of more than 450 organizations, has invested in W3C decentralized identifiers and W3C verifiable W3C credentials to ensure a more decentralized, privacy-respecting, and consent-based data-sharing ecosystem.
Formal standards work on these technologies will continue through the recently reworked W3C Verifiable Credentials 2.0 Working Group, which will focus on expanding functionality based on market feedback. Further incubation of future privacy-respecting technologies will occur through the W3C Credentials Community Group, which is open to participation by the general public.
About the World Wide Web Consortium
The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to lead the Web to its fullest potential by creating technical standards and guidelines to ensure the Web remains open, accessible, and interoperable for everyone around the world.
The well-known W3C standards in HTML and CSS are the basic technologies on which websites are built. The W3C works to ensure that all foundational web technologies meet the needs of civil society, in areas such as accessibility, internationalization, security, and privacy. The W3C also provides standards that support the infrastructure for modern businesses that take advantage of the Web, in areas such as entertainment, communications, digital publishing, and financial services. This work has been created out in the open, and is being made available free of charge, under the W3C Leading Patent Policy.
W3C’s vision for “One Web” brings together thousands of dedicated technicians representing more than 400 Member Organizations and dozens of industry sectors. W3C is jointly hosted by MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang . University In China.
For more information, see https://www.w3.org/.