Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN) are joining hands to develop a digital identification network that employs blockchain technology. The project is supported by the United Nations in order to offer legal identification to more than one billion people in the world who don’t possess official documents. A prototype of the system was unveiled at the headquarters of United Nations in New York in the course of an ID2020 summit which was being held for the second time.
Proof of identity
The goal of the project is to assist individuals such as displaced persons to obtain proof of identity with a view to gaining access to such taxpayer funded services as healthcare and education.
“Without an identity you can’t access education, financial services, healthcare, you name it. You are disenfranchised and marginalized from society. Having a digital identity is a basic human right,” said Accenture’s financial services practice managing director, David Treat, in an interview with Reuters. What Treat did not mention is that private services can always be accessed with payment, and his quote only applies to taxpayer funded services.
While it was first developed as ledger for use in bitcoin transactions, blockchain technology is now being used for the secure tracking of data in various other sectors. Ultimately, the technology will continue to erode what is left of privacy.
With the new platform, records from public and commercial entities that already exist will be connected via blockchain and users will consequently be able to access their personal information regardless of where they are physically located. Displaced persons will, for instance, be able to offer proof of their education or birth even when they have already fled their countries and left their documents behind. This is because one of the inherent advantages of blockchain is that it allows different systems from different organizations to communicate.
The Microsoft/Accenture prototype was developed atop a platform that had initially been built by Accenture. This platform is currently in use to power UNHCR’s biometric data identity management system. Besides Microsoft and Accenture, Avanade Inc, a managed service provider, also collaborated on developing the prototype. The main contribution of Microsoft to the project was to supply computing infrastructure via the Azure cloud service.
On Monday shares of Microsoft Corporation rose by 1.24% to close the day at $70.87.