Welcome to IOP
Like many projects in the blockchain space, we at IOP have a vision of an internet that is designed to enhance our freedoms. We strive to reverse the centralisation, the indiscriminate commodification of data and in particular the erosion of personal privacy that sadly have become hallmarks of today’s digital world.
To begin with, the development of IOP’s technology will focus on solving the problems of virtual identity, giving users control over their personal data and create technology so users can create cryptographically secure claims about themselves in order to obtain goods or services.
An identity Problem
Our identity is a combination of both abstract and specific pieces of information. In the offline world, proving something like age, nationality or a qualification is as simple as presenting a physical document to a human, who uses their judgement to assess its authenticity. But the need for human discretion comes at great economic, social and political cost.
Attempts to digitise and automate the process have created an array of far more serious problems. Unless you’re using cryptographic proofs of key control, it is almost impossible to prove the validity of any information in the virtual world, without the assistance of a trust authority. Neither party can be certain with whom they’re communicating, nor can the recipient be any more sure that a sent document is genuine.
Privacy laid bare
In both online and offline processes, users have no fine-grained control over the sharing of specific pieces of data, nor can they grant and revoke access at will. Due to the limited number of accepted credentials, users are forced to overshare data (e.g. using a passport to verify drinking age), unnecessarily compromising their privacy. Privacy is further eroded in the online process where one-click sign-ons have become common and grant the provider access to even more personal data which--shared once--can not easily be retracted.
All of this data needs to be carefully transmitted and stored, which gives rise to immense costs related to cybersecurity and data compliance. These costs are inevitably passed on to the consumer in the form of monetisation of our data. That brings us to the gatekeepers and intermediaries on which systems based on a central root of trust must rely.
Unsecure, unethical gatekeepers
Centralised reputation systems rely on massive datasets which have proved an irresistible and relatively straightforward target for hackers. Data breaches such as the 2017 Equifax hack, which saw the theft of 147 million peoples’ personal data have become commonplace. Many of these gatekeepers have also been found to abuse their position with inconsistent and unethical behaviour which impacts billions of people globally who take access to these services for granted.
Due to factors such as cost, remoteness and unfair governance, billions more are denied identity and credential services which form the fundamental basis of banking, healthcare and civil rights.
Attempts have been made to use existing technologies and new blockchain-based solutions to address all of these challenges, but they have so far proven to be insufficiently fast, secure or scalable, and many still rely on trusted third parties. Even the latest decentralised technologies based on Bitcoin’s Proof of Work and more recent versions using Proof of Stake
Our decentralized solution
IOP’s solution is a decentralised trust ecosystem based on self-sovereign identifiers and secure peer-to-peer communication.
The IOP Stack is a multi-layered platform which combines a public blockchain secured by a state-of-the-art consensus mechanism with a number of modular, user-friendly tools that enable the creation of an ecosystems of dApps and decentralised services.
The core components of our stack are being created in the Rust programming language,
which guarantees memory safety and thread safety using compile-time checks with zero
runtime overhead for the prevention of common and serious bugs. However tools will also be provided to allow applications to be built using more familiar programming languages.
Launched in 2016, the IOP blockchain was initially based on the Bitcoin codebase. But to achieve a more rigorous consensus and avoid the risk - however small - of extended rollbacks, IOP is developing its own consensus mechanism, Hydra, which will secure the network and the Morpheus DID Registry at its heart.
Hydra is built on an open and permissionless Delegated Proof of Stake consensus. In this consensus, the users of the system use their stake to elect a committee of 53 representatives that are responsible for maintaining and extending the blockchain. As well as participating in consensus, network nodes will enable Mercury’s peer-to-peer communication, and provide secure data storage and claim verification services to users. Nodes are rewarded for their services in IOP tokens. There is no threshold for the number of tokens a user needs to vote, nor any lock-up condition. The likely need for businesses to manage thousands of keys for different DIDs will create token liquidity and a powerful incentive for nodes to participate in the ecosystem.
Self-sovereign identity is of limited use without a means of granting access to claim issuers and verifiers. Mercury is an encrypted, two-way authenticated peer-to-peer communication protocol which enables the claims process, among many other use cases. Mercury is a decentralised web of Home nodes which punch through the Network Address Translation layers. Effectively forming a decentralised, secure cellular network which enables peer discovery, nodes are chosen based on trust and reliability.
Mercury ensures no data is leaked during claim verification or any other type of communication, and is the ideal tool for dApps which require secure, direct user connections. If you’d like to learn more about Mercury, please visit our IOP GitHub account where we’ve published a prototype of the protocol.
To give anyone access to powerful tools within the IOP Stack, it was necessary to create Titania, IOP’s core operating system and the first crypto-specific system of its kind. Intended as a secure and low-cost gateway to the IOP ecosystem with an intuitive web interface, Titania is a full dockerised environment for the secure deployment of dApps and the management of Home nodes. Designed for use with low-resource devices, Titania is now complete and ready to use. Future iterations will include the Titania dApp store with full IOP Stack integration.
Although Titania offers a comprehensive tool for interacting with the IOP Stack, it is Prometheus which will serve as the user’s hub for access to key vaults, credentials, claims, relations and contacts. Prometheus will ultimately provide a comprehensive SDK that opens the doorway to an ecosystem of dApps powered by the various elements of the IOP stack and a central hub application giving fine-grained management control to users.
IOP technology will create a global web of trust open to all. We see the various constituent technologies as powerful and flexible enough to be applied far beyond identity and claims verification to decentralised services which serve organisations, communities and societies.
By focusing on simplicity, ease of use and low cost, the IOP ecosystem is ripe for mass adoption and can create opportunities for billions of users across the globe. In turn, those new audiences represent new opportunities for business, as well as developers whose apps can transform sectors as diverse as social media, digital advertising, peer-to-peer content and data integration.
IOP’s secure, private, censor-resistant and decentralised technology enables maximum privacy, minimal disclosure, and aligns perfectly with the coming shift towards greater user power. Thanks to the Hydra consensus, IOP will be a fast, efficient, cost-effective, scalable and democratic technology.
Modular, extensible, portable and accessible, the IOP Stack allows developers to harness and build upon any aspect of the technology. By ensuring that our code is open-source and well documented, we encourage developers to discover our solutions and contribute to our vision of a better digital world.
Although many elements of the IOP platform are in development, features such as the official Prometheus Application, the Hydra Blockchain and Titania OS are available for use, testing or review. For more detail on the IOP Stack, please read the white paper or join our developer community on Discord.