XDI.ORG was originally founded as the XNS Public Trust Organization (XNSORG) in July, 2000, to promote the concept of individuals owning their own digital identity and data based on a nascent technology being produced by two Technical Committees at OASIS: XRI (Extensible Resource Identifier) and XDI (Extensible Data Interchange). Its charter was to serve as the public steward for a body of intellectual property contributed by OneName Corporation. These patents covered what became semantic data web technology, a new way to form persistent links and long-term, trusted data sharing relationships over electronic networks.

The first job of XNSORG was to help develop royalty-free open standards that would enable broad adoption of dataweb technology. XNS (eXtensible Name Service) and the first XNS naming services were announced in September 2000.

In July 2002, XNSORG published the XNS 1.0 specifications with Visa International, Gemplus, Nomura Research Institute, and Wave Systems as sponsors. In January 2003 XNSORG contributed these specifications to OASIS to help form the XRI (Extensible Resource Identifier) Technical Committee.

The OASIS XRI TC published the XRI Generic Syntax and Resolution Specification 1.0 (PDF) on January 9, 2004. Based on this specification for persistent, location-independent abstract identifers, the XDI (XRI Data Interchange) Technical Committee was formed in February, 2004.

On June 6, 2004, XNSORG changed its identity to XDI.ORG to reflect this new direction and to embark on the second phase of its charter to establish global services that facilitate interoperability and enable trusted data interchange among members of the XDI community.

In June 2006, Neustar and Cordance launched the Global Registry and discovery service for XRI.  This service included the ability to discover people and organizations, assign and lookup abstract services, and operate three base network services for authentication, contact and forwarding.

With the XRI specs in place and global discovery services operational the XDI Technical committee began to actively define the XDI protocol to address trusted, peer-to-peer data sharing, linking, and synchronization in 2008.

In October 2013 Neustar and XDI.org entered into agreement to re-launch community registry and discovery services for people (=), organizations (+) and things (*), under the latest XDI specifications.  Together they began the process to establish peer to peer exchange of semantically rich data between trusted identities without the need of intermediaries.