Bitcoin

Microsoft Is Using Bitcoin to Help Build a Decentralized Internet

The ION project promises to give individual users absolute control over their online identity and privacy.

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In an age of increasingly ubiquitous government surveillance, security breaches, and high-profile cancellations, in which internet giants have ultimate control over users' online profiles, credentials, and data, Microsoft is helping to build a technology that would give individuals ownership rights over their own virtual identities.

The mission of the ION project is to build Decentralized Identifiers, or DIDs, that can serve as the anchor point for our activities all across the internet. If the goal of bitcoin is to eliminate the power of centralized institutions over money, ION is trying to do the same thing with online identities.

To achieve this level of decentralization and immutability, ION is built on top of the shared database that's used for recording bitcoin transactions, which is known as the blockchain. Though Microsoft is contributing most of the work, the company would have no control over who participates in the system.

Daniel Buchner, a self-described libertarian, is the project lead for ION. Reason sat down with him at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami to talk about how this technology could usher in a new era of hyper-individualized online identity and privacy.

Narrated by Nick Gillespie, edited by John Osterhoudt, camera by Jim Epstein and Noor Greene, additional graphics by Lex Villena

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  1. If the goal of bitcoin is to eliminate the power of centralized institutions over money, ION is trying to do the same thing with online identities.

    So, ION can be used for voter ID? That is, once poor and minority voters have access to the internet?

    1. That is, once poor and minority voters have access to the internet?

      After they’ve been provided free public high speed internet, sure. Then they can vote securely and anonymously.

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    2. Bitcoin can be stolen… and leaves footprints about the owner…

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  2. And the fed intelligence, military, police and unmasking bureaucrats would have no access, or would they ride roughshod all over that system too? Doesn’t seem like they favor giving up control…

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  3. I’ve started listening, but geez, Mirosoft? The king of the sleazy tech giants, the bait and switch champion, the most defective and buggy software? Zero credibility.

    I avoided Microsoft software as much as possible. My experience with their buggy crap is that they either never used their own software, or they would have run into their bugs; or they simply had such low standards that those bugs were acceptable.

    No idea how much of this interview I’ll be able to stomach. Microsoft!

    1. I used to be like you and then I switched to Linux and Libre office for a year or so. MS products are superior junk in a whole world full of junk software.

      1. Considering its market share and being free, the libre stuff is pretty good. I use it for most of what I do, and it gets the job done. Without stupid fees, terms and conditions.

  4. It doesn’t mean anything when 99.9% of people willingly and enthusiastically use their real name on Facebook.

  5. trust microsoft to fight government lol. sun came up in the west on your planet today?

  6. There’s something off about this. I don’t need a DiD. I’m Diane Reynolds… until I change that or delete that on Reason.

    This feels like something like… I don’t know, a “hard id” that can be traced to you.

    1. It is. The “libertarian” is there for PR.

  7. I don’t want to use a permanently assigned DID to “navigate” the internet.

  8. Bitcoin can be stolen… and leaves footprints about the owner… can this DiD be stolen?

  9. Sooo…is this the same Microsoft that tried to install their OS software and browser in every computer, including every computer in all the government agencies and schools with whom Microsoft had contracts?

    Is this the same Microsoft whose CEO was called BillGateus of Borg?

    Is this the same Microsoft that is no doubt a government stoolie after Bill Gates ran in with Antitrust authorities?

    Yeah, right! Quit pissing down our vacks and telling us it’s raining!

    1. Opps, “backs, not “vacks.” Don’t want to get Fist started. 😉

    2. You mean like Apple did and Google is currently doing? Oh right, they both also install their browser and only their browser on their phones too.
      Yeah bill gates can rot in hell, but the anti ms trope is ridiculously stupid and uninformed. Google is 100 times worse with anti competitive practices and apple desktop OSs are garbage. Unless youve spent years learning Linux and are using it for enterprise, it’s also worthless garbage. All the open source shit available for consumer use on it is buggy to the point of being unusable.

      1. My assertions about Microsoft do not deny yours about Apple, Google, and Linux.

        IT culture in general needs a nut-cutting, or rather, a nut-transplant followed by a nut-cutting.

        1. The whole thing just sounds nutty.

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  12. Ummm…. libertarians are in favor of Microsoft and online identification systems now? I think I need a new political party.

  13. As far as I can tell, the whole point of this is to create a replacement internet where anonymity is technically impossible, you have to prove who you are to do ANYTHING.

    I could see why the Chicoms would love the idea, I don’t see any reason a free people should tolerate it, especially in a context where people get destroyed for having the ‘wrong’ opinions.

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