Jack Dorsey’s Bitcoin-focused TBD business unit, a subsidiary of Block Inc., announced Friday that it is building a new decentralized web: Web5.
Web5 is based on the assumption that Web3, the idea of building a decentralized web with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, has the right intentions but is using the 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. Rather, the blockchain has only proven to be needed for a very specific purpose – mitigate the double-spend problem to successfully bring peer-to-peer money to the digital realm with Bitcoin.
TBD’s Web5 is made up of software components and services such as decentralized identifiers (DIDs), decentralized web node (DWNs), self-sovereign identity service (SSIS) and a self-sovereign identity software development kit (ssi-sdk). These components let developers focus on building user experiences while more easily enabling decentralized identity and data storage in applications.
Web5’s DID component leverages ION, an open, public and permissionless second-layer DID network that runs atop the Bitcoin blockchain. It is based on the deterministic Sidetree protocol, which requires no special tokens, trusted validators or additional consensus mechanisms to function.
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 in theory process thousands of DID operations per second.