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Alan Lenton: A Passport to an Open ID?

Posted by: Alan Lenton on 12 February 2008
[12-02-2008] And who exactly does own your computer...
Get ready for an assault on your computer by Microyahooglesoft! Microsoft are teaming up with Google, Yahoo, IBM and the execrable VeriSign on the OpenID board. After years of plugging its own Passport system, Microsoft has finally thrown in the towel, and joined OpenID.

The concept is simple, it's the idea that you just have a single identity on the net, and that you use that identity to sign in everywhere, instead of having to remember different identities.

As I see it there are a number of problems with the idea.

Let's start at the beginning. Are multiple sign-ons really a problem? My experience is that most people who've been on the web any length of time actually use only a few sites, most of which don't require their users to sign in. Not much gain there for surrendering your personal info to the likes of Microyahooglesoft.

Next, a lot of the people who do have extensive multiple sign-ons have them because they want multiple identities on the net! Yes, really, you all know who I'm talking about. No deal on that one then.

Then there is the question of how many sites actually require their casual users to sign in? OpenID claim more than 10,000 sites currently support their log-ons. Sounds a lot, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds of millions of sites out there. Not much mileage in that, I suspect.

Finally, who would you trust your personal information to? Microsoft? Google? Yahoo? IBM? VeriSign? Not a cat in hell's chance!

Alan produces a (nearly) weekly tech news newsletter. Find the details at <>