What is Decentralized Identity?

John Craddock, Microsoft MVP, acclaimed international speaker and identity guru, explains the principles of Decentralized Identity (DID)

How many identities do you have for accessing work and social resources? On your list will be Office 365, Amazon, Gmail, your corporate network, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many more! Who controls those identities? Not you!

How would it be if YOU were in control of your identity?

Introduction to Decentralized IdentityIn today’s world, we are forced to entrust multiple organizations that hold our identity; in many cases, secured by only a username and password. How would it be if YOU were in sole control of your identity and not relying on multiple organizations protecting it for you?

With decentralized identity, organizations will no longer own your identity, and you will be in control. This self-owned identity will integrate seamlessly into your daily life and give you complete control of the information you share and whom you share it with.


The core of this new technology is cryptography. Identity is cryptography secured through the use of private/public key pairs. You can act pseudo anonymously or publish your identity in an immutable transaction ledger. The ability to publish identity allows trusted organisations to issue claims about users that can be fully verified. A user’s identity can be digitally confirmed, and selected claims presented that are fully verifiable against the issuing authority.

Meet Eric – an example

As an example, imagine the issuing authority is the passport office, and there is a user called Eric. Eric requests a digital passport, supplying whatever proofs of identity that are required by the government agency. The passport is issued and digitally locked to Eric identity. When Eric signs up for a bank account, he can supply his digital passport as verified proof of who he is. The bank can check that the passport is valid because it is signed by the passport office whose identity is fully verifiable. Crypto maths can get really clever, and Eric doesn’t always have to present his passport, he could simply present individual claims that are contained within his digital passport.

DID is a work in progress with the involvement of many organizations.

Want to know more about Decentralized Identity?

To understand Decentralized Identity, you first need a solid grounding in Blockchain. We recommend you watch John’s session The Ultimate Guide to Blockchain before you watch John’s Introduction to Decentralized Identity. As with all John’s sessions, there’s no waffle, just great, in-depth technical explanations.

Published May 2019