Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! combine for single digital ID

7 Feb 2008

Shortly after Yahoo! said it would give its support to the OpenID Foundation’s single digital identity initiative, it has become one of the first corporate members of the Foundation’s board, alongside Microsoft, IBM, Google and VeriSign.

These big tech players are putting their weight behind the organisation, which was founded in early 2006 with the purpose of eliminating the chore of logging in each time an individual visited a new site, resulting in multiple usernames and passwords.

Essentially, the single digital identity would be like a passport for the net, where one ID would allow surfers to access all their password-protected sites. Currently, there are over 10,000 sites which support OpenID log-ins, with roughly 350 million OpenID-enabled URLs in existence.

“With this support from these new company board members, the OpenID Foundation will be able to continue to promote and protect the OpenID technology and its community moving forward,” said Bill Washburn, executive director, OpenID Foundation.

“The community has expanded quickly since the inception of the Foundation and these companies will help bring OpenID into the mainstream markets.”

In order to further the development of OpenID technology, Microsoft has donated legal resources while Google, IBM, VeriSign and Yahoo! have made several other contributions.

Yahoo! has already linked the log-in for the Yahoo! portal with that of its photo-sharing site Flickr so that those with Yahoo! IDs can use them across the OpenID web.

However, one single identity for the entire web throws up questions of security. If an ID is compromised then access to all of a user’s sites could be available but IBM distinguished engineer and chief security architect of IBM Tivoli software, Anthony Nadalin, says OpenID provides the user with more centralised control which can protect their digital identity.

“Privacy concerns have been escalating rapidly because of repeated incidents involving unexpected personal information loss and user identity theft,” said Nadalin.

“As a leader in identity, access and federated identity management and open standards-based software, this is an important step in IBM’s collaboration with other industry leaders to continuously enhance open source projects for user-centric identity management.”

By Marie Boran