Following the approval of the Decentralized Identifiers (DID) Core Spec by the W3C as an official open web standard, the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) announced the approval of the DIDComm v2 specification. Combined, this represents a major step forward in the acceptance of decentralized identity, one that opens the path to widespread adoption and further development especially with regard to the types of peer-to-peer communication now possible.
DIDComm, short for Decentralized Identifier Communication, is a communications methodology that works with the decentralized design of DIDs to provide private, secure interaction. "Methodology" is used rather than method because it describes more than just a mechanism for individual or sequential messages. DIDComm defines how messages are composed into application-level protocols and workflows. Just as DIDs are a foundational element of decentralized identity by providing non-revocable identifiers, DIDComm provides secure communication between parties based on the service endpoints and keys present in a DID Document.
DIDComm provides the next step in decentralized identity: direct, secure communication between the owners of DIDs. Currently, APIs are the norm for communicating with online services; however, APIs favor those with the ability to provide highly-available online services; they are ill-suited to peer-to-peer cases where the endpoints are not highly available and the infrastructure costs must be low. In contrast, DIDComm enables peer-to-peer interaction with computers, phones, and even IoT devices.
The protocol derives its security properties independently of the transport being used. The privacy and security guarantees are the same whether using HTTPS, or websockets, or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transport.
By removing architectural barriers, DIDComm-based protocols return individuals and small companies to first-class citizen status on the Internet, a state largely lost via the expansion of large social media platforms and the rise of APIs as a primary integration method.
Version 1 of DIDComm started in the HyperlLedger Aries project and resulted in full community adoption. Version 2 of DIDComm (also called DIDComm Messaging) began at the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) as parties outside the HL Aries community became interested in and started working collaboratively on the protocol. The [DIF DIDComm working group]((https://identity.foundation/working-groups/did-comm.html) is responsible for the numerous improvements and simplifications that now form DIDComm v2.
DIDComm v2 has now reached DIF Approved Status, joining SideTree spec as a complete and approved open-source specification. DIDComm v2 is now ready for development, with planned adoption by the HyperLedger Aries community. The DIDComm spec and "What's New in DIDComm v2" section links are below, along with some explainer videos to help those wishing to understand more.
While the initial spec work may be done, there are plenty of ways to get involved with the ongoing work of the DIDComm community. The DIDComm Users Group is open to all, and a great place to get started with using DIDComm and asking questions: Join the conversation on Discord. This group is working on the creation of the "DIDComm Book," which is available in a live version here: https://didcomm.org/book/v2/
How else can you join the identity community? Joining DIF is a great way to start; you are invited to contribute, learn and connect with our diverse community. Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter on our website here to stay up to date on developments at DIF and in the wider digital identity landscape. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter & LinkedIn!
For some background and general understanding, these two videos and podcast focus on the general ideas and utility:
Sam Curren Floss Weekly Podcast appearance - 15th June 2022
Sam Curren unpacks for Doc Searls and Dan Lynch why DIDs and DIDcomm are the best approach to identity---and to making people first-class citizens on the Internet. Curren also discusses the origin story of picos and the advantages of nomadic living and hacking.