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Chinese tech giants announce new distributed identity alliance

A new alliance of Chinese tech giants has been formed this week with a specific focus on distributed identity, in the latest collaboration to hit the blockchain scene.

In the latest example of major companies pulling together to drive innovation through blockchain, the Distributed Identity Alliance (DID Alliance) was founded by 17 Chinese firms across sectors. Among the big names to sign up to the alliance so far are Baidu, Tencent Cloud, WeBank, JD.com and UnionPay Electronic Payment Research Institute.

The group was set up to investigate and research distributed ID technology, with a view to developing commercial applications of the technology in various settings.

The alliance will ultimately work to create open source technologies, adopting international standards to help local businesses bridge the gap to international digital ID consortia.

The model proposed by the alliance comes at a time of greater international cooperation on the issue of distributed identities. The international consensus appears to be trending towards self sovereign identity, a system where individuals control ownership and access to their own data.

In practice, this means individuals often store their own personal data, though it remains unclear whether this type of system would be supported by Chinese authorities. Notably, the alliance name translates as “distributed”, rather than “decentralized” identity, which gives some clues as to the direction of the group.

The new alliance is the latest example of companies working together, and of public-private partnerships to pursue innovation in blockchain.

In South Korea, three of the country’s largest mobile phone networks have launched a new DID system based on driver’s licenses which are stored within device apps. This allows consumers to present proof of ID in a secure fashion without the need to share more private data, in demonstrating they are old enough to buy alcohol, for example. 

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