Jack Dorsey’s TBD Presents Bitcoin-Based Decentralized Web5

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Jack Dorsey, a subsidiary to Block Inc.’s TBD business unit, announced Friday that it will be building a new decentralized Web: Web5.

Web5 assumes that Web3, which is trying to build a decentralized web using blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, has the right intentions but is using wrong tools.

Web5 leverages Bitcoin, the decentralized monetary network, and a plethora of sound computer science technologies to create a new ecosystem of decentralized identities, data storage and applications in which the users are in control of their personal information.

Fairly decentralized developments in the internet over the past couple of decades such as BitTorrent and Tor have shown that blockchain technology is not a necessary component for decentralization. The blockchain technology has been proven to be only necessary for a specific purpose: to mitigate double-spend and bring peer-to-peer funds to the digital realm with Bitcoin.

TBD’s Web5 consists of software components and services like decentralized identifiers, decentralized web nodes (DWNs), self -sovereign identification service (SSIS), and a self -sovereign ID software development kit (ssi_sdk). These components allow developers to focus on user experience while enabling decentralized identity and data storage within applications.

Decentralized Identifiers

Web5’s DID component leverages ION, an open, public and permissionless second-layer DID network that runs atop the Bitcoin blockchain. It is based upon the deterministic Sidetree protocol. It does not require any special tokens, trusted validators, or additional consensus mechanisms to work.

A DID is essentially a globally unique persistent identifier that doesn’t require a centralized registration authority and is often generated and registered cryptographically. It consists of a unique uniform resource identifier (URI) string that serves as an ID with additional public key infrastructure (PKI) metadata describing the cryptographic keys and other fundamental PKI values linked to a unique, user-controlled, self-sovereign identifier in a target system such as the Bitcoin blockchain.

ION only allows DIDs to be deactivated by their owners, being hence censorship-resistant, and includes registry capabilities to support decentralized package managers and app stores. The decentralized network can theoretically process thousands of DID operations per minute.

Decentralized Web Node

The DWN leveraged by Web5 is a reference implementation of the Decentralized Identity Foundation’s DWN draft specification. Block’s Moe Jangda and Daniel Bucher contributed to the specification.

According to the specification, a DWN can be used to store and transmit data. Participants can use it to locate public or private information linked to a DID. It allows entities to interact with each other, verifying their identities in order to transfer information.

“Decentralized Web Nodes are a mesh-like datastore construction that enable an entity to operate multiple nodes that sync to the same state across one another, enabling the owning entity to secure, manage, and transact their data with others without reliance on location or provider-specific infrastructure, interfaces, or routing mechanisms,” per the specification.

Topology of decentralized web nodes. Source: DIF.

Topology of decentralized web nodes. Source: DIF.

TBD’s goal is to produce a first version of the current draft specification along with a reference implementation by July 1, 2022.

Contributions from the development community are welcome. Interested developers can submit proposals as pull requests to the GitHub repository. You can also submit issues to the same GitHub repository.

Self-Sovereign Identity Service

Web5’s SSIS is a web service that wraps the ssi-sdk. The SSIS interfaces with standards around verifiable credential, credential revocations and exchanging credentials. It also allows for the exchange of credentials, data schemas for credentials, exchanging credentials, exchanging credentials, exchanging credentials, exchanging credentials, and messaging using DWN.

The SSIS facilitates everything related to DIDs and verifiable credentials. Source: TBD.

The SSIS facilitates everything related to DIDs and verifiable credentials. Source: TBD.

“Using these core standards, the SSIS enables robust functionality to facilitate all verifiable interactions such as creating, signing, issuing, curating, requesting, revoking, exchanging, validating, verifying credentials in varying degrees of complexity,” per its webpage.

Self-Sovereign Identity SDK

The ssi-sdk encapsulates standards related to self-sovereign identity.

A preliminary view of the SDK’s vision. Standards included are under active development and are therefore subject to be added or removed. Source: TBD.

A preliminary view of the SDK’s vision. The standards included in the SDK’s vision are still under active development. They may be modified or added to. Source: TBD.

“The ssi-sdk intends to provide flexible functionality based on a set of standards-based primitives for building decentralized identity applications in a modular manner: with limited dependencies between components,” per its webpage.

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