federated identity

A federated identity is one recognized by many cooperating institutions. A personal credit rating is one, dental records or other medical records are another. Both of these are intended to be identical to one's body identity and users have specific rights with respect to these that are carefully defined in law.

Online a number of systems exist, some to support federated webs with many cooperating web services using a common identity standard that can be easily processed online. PayPal, Amazon's 1-click, and "the millions of users of communications systems, may all be legitimate contenders to build a network-wide identity database. (In this regard, Google's recent attempt to use cell phone numbers as an identifier for Gmail accounts may be a step towards embracing and extending the phone system.)"as O'Reilly notes and as other communications services often do.

There is a trend however to systems where I am a tag rather than a number. A detailed analysis of this perspective suggest it is quite practical:


O'Reilly claims "Meanwhile, startups like Sxip are exploring the potential of federated identity, in quest of a kind of "distributed 1-click" that will provide a seamless Web 2.0 identity subsystem. In the area of calendaring, EVDB is an attempt to build the world's largest shared calendar via a wiki-style architecture of participation. While the jury's still out on the success of any particular startup or approach, it's clear that standards and solutions in these areas, effectively turning certain classes of data into reliable subsystems of the "internet operating system", will enable the next generation of applications."

data ownership and attribution

"A further point must be noted with regard to data, and that is user concerns about privacy and their rights to their own data. In many of the early web applications, copyright is only loosely enforced. For example, Amazon lays claim to any reviews submitted to the site, but in the absence of enforcement, people may repost the same review elsewhere. However, as companies begin to realize that control over data may be their chief source of competitive advantage, we may see heightened attempts at control."

Also, increasing use of Creative Commons and similar license regimes and the contention over attribution and legal issues in collaborative writing, suggest that a single login might be the only way to handle this issue, perhaps one using jabber.org for now, and eventually a sovereign identity system.