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We Already Have OpenID, If You Want It

The internet is dangerous and complicated says the government. And according to a recent White House policy report, it’s time for team Obama to step in. You see, it’s hard, remembering all those passwords to different websites. Someone could hack one of your accounts, and steal your identity. Clearly, the only solution is a single, unified online identity provided by the government.

If I wanted a “unified identity,” I already have several options.  AOL was among the first to jump on board with OpenID.  The foundation currently boasts support from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Verisign, among others.  Despite the entourage of web power brokers, OpenID, the protocol that allows users to use a single log-in across the web, hasn’t gained much market presence.  And it’s not for lack of availability.  Even here, OpenID is incorporated for authenticating comments.

The reason? Just because I can have a single, unified set of web credentials doesn’t mean I should.  Currently, if someone manages to hack my Facebook account, then I’m annoyed, but not overly panicked.  So, they can edit my status and join a group praising Barack Obama.  Worse things could happen.  If they managed to snag my government-issued, centralized web credentials, it’s a whole new ball game. Now the criminal has unrestricted access to my credit cards, bank accounts, email accounts, and every other website I’ve joined.

We’ve called on people to use unique passwords for years. Now, when user accounts are compromised en masse and we barely lift an eyebrow, we’re telling people to put all their credentials in one basket? It’s there if you want it, but I’d rather not head down that road, especially if team Obama is pushing me there.  Separate accounts may be hectic, but if worst comes to worst, I only lose one account, not everything.