In 2016, Christopher Allen, a key contributor to SSL/TLS, inspired us with an introduction of 10 principles underpinning a new form of digital identity and a path to get there, the path to self-sovereign identity. Self-sovereign identity, also known as decentralized identity, is a “lifetime portable identity for any person, organization, or thing that does not depend on any centralized authority and can never be taken away,” according to the Trust over IP standard. Adopting and implementing decentralized identity is gaining momentum and becoming attainable. We see its adoption in privacy-respecting customer health applications, government healthcare infrastructure and corporate legal identity. If you want to rapidly get started with decentralized identity, you can assess Sovrin Network, Hyperledger Aries and Indy OSS, as well as decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials standards. We're watching this space closely as we help our clients with their strategic positioning in the new era of digital trust.
Since the birth of the internet, the technology landscape has experienced an accelerated evolution toward decentralization. While protocols such as HTTP and architectural patterns such as microservices or data mesh enable decentralized implementations, identity management remains centralized. The emergence of distributed ledger technology (DLT), however, provides the opportunity to enable the concept of decentralized identity. In a decentralized identity system, entities — that is, discrete identifiable units such as people, organizations and things — are free to use any shared root of trust. In contrast, conventional identity management systems are based on centralized authorities and registries such as corporate directory services, certificate authorities or domain name registries.
The development of decentralized identifiers — globally unique, persistent and self-sovereign identifiers that are cryptographically verifiable — is a major enabling standard. Although scaled implementations of decentralized identifiers in the wild are still rare, we're excited by the premise of this movement and have started using the concept in our architecture. For the latest experiments and industry collaborations, check out Decentralized Identity Foundation.