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IBM Joins Group Building a Blockchain-based Global Identity Network

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International Business Machines Corp has joined a private, non-profit organization called Sovrin Foundation that is seeking to build a global decentralized identity system based on blockchain technology.

The blue-chip U.S. computing company will join the non-profit as a "founding steward," dedicating hardware, security, and network capacity to help create a digital identity network for individuals and businesses, Sovrin foundation chair Phil Windley told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Other international IT firms are already taking part, led by Deutsche Telekom's research and innovation unit Telekom Innovation laboratories, Sovrin said.

"The way we live and work online is quite different from the physical world," Windley said. "By creating a global digital identity system, Sovrin is trying to make the online world as authentic and as interactive as the physical world."

Sovrin's identity network uses distributed ledger technology, or blockchain, to enable the secure exchange of cryptographically-signed credentials to prove an owner's digital identity information.

"We believe that the adoption of blockchain is an opportunity for a new trust model to take hold where individuals and organizations can securely share private information and credentials without an intermediary," Marie Wieck, IBM Blockchain general manager, said in a statement.

IBM, which did not give a cost estimate for its contribution, has been active in participating in blockchain initiatives and is keen to remain at the forefront of developments in the fast-moving space.

The Sovrin network is currently running with limited capacity, but will be more widely available by mid-2018, Windley said.

Sovrin said existing identity systems were flawed, with more than 2.9 billion records compromised from various security incidents across industries in 2017.

"These damaging and costly security breaches are a consequence of the internet being developed without a true identity layer," Sovrin said.

"To solve this infrastructure flaw, the Sovrin network was purpose-built to add the missing identity layer to the internet."

The Sovrin network is based on emerging standards from the World Wide Web Consortium that standardizes the format of digitally-signed credentials.

 

IBM is the global leader in hybrid cloud and AI, serving clients in more than 170 countries. More than 3,500 clients use our hybrid cloud platform to accelerate their digital transformation journeys and, in total, more than 30,000 of them have turned to IBM to unlock value from their data — this client list includes nine out of ten of the world's largest banks. With this foundation, we continue to leverage Red Hat OpenShift as the leading platform to address our clients' business needs: A hybrid cloud platform that is open, flexible and secure. Guided by principles of trust, transparency and support for a more inclusive society, IBM also is committed to being a responsible steward of technology and a force for good in the world. For more information, visit: www.ibm.com.

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