Decentralized Identity

In my LeWeb talk, I mentioned decentralized identity as one of the three big things I am looking for in the coming years. I think a protocol based approach is what is needed and the idea that Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other big tech company is going to control the database of all of our identities is a nutty idea in my mind.

We’ve been looking at a lot of things and to date, the namecoin protocol seems to show the most promise. Yesterday my partner Albert wrote a post explaining how someone could build this distributed identity layer on top of namecoin and pointed to two services, NamecoinID and OneName, that are attempting to do just that.

I have just started playing around with these two services and don’t yet have much of an opinion on them. But I did set up a onename profile at onename.io/fredwilson. You can send me bitcoin there if you’d like :)

This sort of thing has been tried in the past. OpenID comes to mind. They have all been too wonky and none got mainstream adoption. At this point, Namecoin, NamecoinID, and OneName are also wonky. But I am hopeful that something will emerge, most likely using the distributed autonomous organization funding model that I talked about yesterday, that will lead to an open global distributed identity system that everyone and anyone can use. If such a thing were to emerge, it would be transformative in many ways.