Microsoft looking to put users at heart of services with trusted identity fabric

Microsoft’s Brandon Murdoch proposes “changing the identity mindset” at Think Digital Identity for Government event

Posted 21 June 2022 by Christine Horton

The public sector must leverage a trusted framework to empower users of digital identity services, according to Microsoft UK’s partner director of engineering, Brandon Murdoch.

This is an evolution from the restrictive, gateway-driven approaches of the past, he said. A trust framework, or fabric, could help to verify all identities and secure, manage, and govern access to any resource.

Murdoch was speaking alongside Ilana Smith, principal PM manager, Identity Dublin, Microsoft at the hybrid Think Digital Identity for Government event in London, and online.

On the change in mindset, Murdoch said: “How do we change the identity conversation from stacks and protocols to achieve outcomes? How do we actually achieve things for users and hide the technology?”

Murdoch cited decentralised identity as being able to give control back to users and making them “a fundamental part of our identity exchange.”

“It’s trying to mirror modern practice,” he explained. “I keep credentials in my wallet. I don’t issue a driving licence. I get a driving licence, but I choose how and when it’s presented. How can we start to reflect that in the digital world?”

However, he noted that while decentralised identity “is an incredibly exciting, incredibly interesting technology,” it “isn’t a panacea.”

“It’s a tool in the box – we have to go to people where they are. Assuming everybody’s going to have a smartphone with a wallet of some sorts, whether it’s a crypto wallet or authenticator app, is naive and unrealistic. So we have to provide a broad spectrum.”

This is where governments shine, he said. “The choices that they make, and the approach they take to solving the outcomes for their users and their customers is an inclusive one. And that really then forces us to think about how we solve these problems.

“Decentralised identity cannot be an ivory tower. It’s got to integrate and work with existing systems. It’s an evolutionary approach rather than the revolutionary approach we’ve been seeing from the community to date.”

Smith and Murdoch also addressed the change in conversation from identity being used to control protect and prevent, to it becoming an enabler for users. They also gave some insight into the next phase of identity: machine identities.

Register here to hear the full conversation – and from a host of other private and public identity experts – at the Think Digital Identity for Government on-demand.