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DID Method Specifications / BTCR and PGPR

Abstract

By defining DID Method Specifications using Bitcoin as an existing distributed ledger and PGP as existing cryptographic identity management software, we create bridges for relating two old technologies to a new one, helping us understand all three.

Considerable responsibilities in maintaining security and privacy have been enumerated for DIDs, but deferred to the individual method specifications to resolve. The first method specification to be completed will, besides clarifying the requirements for its domain, provide a baseline security and privacy consideration section, which other method specifications may refer to for examples.

Background

Self-sovereign identity offers participating entities a way to safely separate identities, personas, and contexts that they are asked to verify in various ways. The central concept in maintaining this flexibility is the creation and management of multiple separate decentralized identifiers (DIDs) for separate roles.

Briefly, DIDs are Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) that are persistent yet do not require a centralized authority to register, that resolve to a unique specific resource (like a URL), and that can cryptographically verify their associated metadata. They are designed to link to DID Descriptor Objects (DDOs). DDOs contain key descriptions that allow one to prove ownership and control of the DID, and contain service endpoints describing further how to interact with the identity owner.

October's rebooting-the-web-of-trust-fall2016 conference resulted in the "DID (Decentralized Identifier) Data Model and Generic Syntax 1.0" specification.

As the spec explains:

To use a DID with a particular distributed ledger or network requires defining a DID method in a separate DID method specification. A DID method specifies the set of rules for how a DID is registered, resolved, updated, and revoked on that specific ledger or network.

Now we may turn to the proposed DID methods.


BTCR DID Method Specification

Abstract

This is the DID method specification for a layer-2 protocol using the Bitcoin ledger's properties to implement self-sovereign identity. It was initially imagined by Christopher Allen.

This specification covers the BTCR DID scheme and methods.

In particular, one objective is to explore building the layer on top of the Bitcoin protocol without creating many transactions wasting OP_RETURN space. Another objective is to show how key rotation may be accomplished.

See Also

Blockstack.org also secures identities on the Bitcoin blockchain. They have a whitepaper.

Several other companies provide identity services anchored in other blockchains, with varying degrees of added value through services available through the company.


PGPR DID Method Specification

Abstract

This is the DID method specification attempting to describe a consistent scheme for using PGP's existing toolkit to: create, read/verify, update, delete/revoke, and resolve as explained in the DID spec.

Although it should be possible to deliver a working implementation, the primary goal of the PGPR method specification is pedagogical. In particular, one objective is to show the difficulties of key rotation using PGP, and how the DID spec offers a framework that demands improvement.

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