OpenID-Decentralized Open Standards For Online Identity

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 27 weeks ago.

Slashdot | The Case for OpenID

In the wake of the Internet Identity Workshop 2006, people are talking more and more about the idea of an "identity commons" and basing identity around open standards.

Cooperation in online environments is largely based around trust, and reputation. Reputation itself is rooted in (relatively) verifiable identity. If your verifiable online identities are locked into identity silos (like Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL, etc.), then the time that you spend building reputation around your identity must be multiplied times the amount of community silos you participate in. Plus, if that silo ceases to exist, your identity/reputation with them is lost.

This is one of the reasons why systems like OpenID are emerging, and gaining momentum. OpenID allows you to keep your online identity with an third party "identity provider". Or, you can use your own URL as an OpenID, and be your own identity provider.

A recent ZDNet article describes OpenID as beng both "fully decentralized", and "very low cost".

Furthermore, it states:

As OpenID marches on, we expect many of its benefits to accrue to:

  • Internet users, who are gaining the ability to control their identity information on-line, through the services of a vendor that they trust (or, if they are technically inclined, by building their own); further:
    • users are more secure, e.g. the phishing attack surface is reduced;
    • their on-line experience is more convenient, e.g. fewer user names and passwords to remember;
    • their on-line experience is more personal, e.g. because sites can more easily take advantage of identity information shared by the user with the site.
  • E-commerce and other website operators, who have the opportunity to serve their customers and visitors better, because:
    • they can simplify user registration, currently a major obstacle for customer acquisition;
    • it allows them – with full approval of the user – to learn more about their visitors, and thus target their offerings better;
    • they can reduce the attack surface for identity theft, because identity information that can be retrieved on demand through OpenID does not need to be stored by the site, and thus cannot be lost or stolen (e.g. backup tapes from a car)
  • Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, for whom OpenID provides a fertile ground for innovation, such as:
    • reputation services, which help both end users and site operators and represent a major business opportunity in itself;
    • open social networks that are not confined to a single vendor's site;
    • more secure, efficient and accountable messaging systems that one day could replace the protocols that e-mail runs on.