Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Federal Support for Federated Login

Last November, we discussed the progress that account login systems operating via standards-based identity technologies like OpenID have achieved across the web. As more websites seek to interact with one another to provide a richer experience for users, we're seeing even more interest in finding a secure way to enable that kind of information sharing while avoiding the hassle for users of creating new accounts and passwords.

Excitement for technology like OpenID is not limited to the private sector. President Obama's open government memorandum last year spurred the creation of a pilot initiative in September to enable U.S. citizens to more easily sign in to government-run websites. Google joined a number of other companies to explore ways to answer that call.

Now, several months later, some interesting things are taking shape. The Open Identity Exchange (OIX), a new organization and certification body focused on online identity management, today named Google among the first identity providers to be approved by the U.S. Government as meeting federal standards for identity assurance. This means that Google's identity, security, and privacy specifications have been certified so that a user can register and log in at U.S. government websites using their Google account login credentials. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the first government website ready to accept such credentials, and we look forward to seeing other websites open up to certified identity providers so that users will have an easier and more secure time interacting with these resources.

Our hope is that the work of the OIX and other groups will continue to grow and help facilitate more open government participation, as well as improve security on the Internet by reducing password use across websites.

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