Just approved by W3C: link
Decentralized Identifier Working Group Charter
URL-based identifiers (URIs) in use on the Web today (2019) require that the identifier be leased from an authority such as a Domain Name Registrar. A Decentralized Identifier (DID) is an identifier that does not need to be leased; its creation and use is possible without a central authority to manage it. The advent of Blockchains and Decentralized Ledger Technologies have led to other innovations that support this new type of decentralized URI. DIDs have various benefits over more traditional URIs:
- DIDs are controlled by individuals, organizations, and machines.
- DIDs enable cryptographic authentication of a DID controller (e.g., DID-based website login using a WebAuthn/FIDO token).
- DIDs provide discovery information for bootstrapping into secure and privacy preserving communication protocols (e.g., encrypted messaging endpoints).
- DIDs provide a path to service-agnostic data portability (including, but not limited to, switching between Verifiable Credential digital wallet providers)