Introducing the VeriSign Personal Identity Provider (PIP)
You're invited to visit and try out a beta version of an identity service we've provided. It's called the VeriSign Personal Identity Provider (“PIP” for short), and you can find it at http://pip.verisignlabs.com. The VeriSign PIP is designed to provide a “home base” for users who want use OpenID applications. Users who register with the VeriSign PIP get an OpenID – a URL they can use to login and authenticate at sites that accept OpenID. In addition, the VeriSign PIP lets you store profile information, and control how, when and with whom that information can be shared.
What Can I Do With The VeriSign PIP?
When you register at the VeriSign PIP, your user name is used to generate a unique URL for your profile. My username is “mgraves”, so my OpenID is “http://mgraves.pip.verisignlabs.com”. Now when you go to a site that supports OpenID, you can provide your OpenID, and use it instead of having to register separately for each site. For example, if you're reading a blog at LiveJournal.com, and want to leave a comment, you can go register for an account at LiveJournal, or just use your OpenID. Enter your OpenID URL, and the LiveJournal will authenticate you with the VeriSign PIP (or any other compatible OpenID server).
You can go to http://www.schtuff.com and create your own wiki with your OpenID. Zooomr is a photo-sharing site that will not only let you log in with OpenID, but will let you auto-register at the site based on information in your VeriSign PIP profile. The Zooomr sign up process is quick, easy, and based on a profile you control. OpenID is already enabled in MovableType 3.2, and plugins for Wordpress and other blogging tools are either available now, or imminent.
What Is Our Goal?
At VeriSign Labs, we see an opportunity to do what we do best – develop and deploy “intelligent infrastructure” -- for the blogosphere, the Web2.0 community and beyond. In the past months, we've noticed the growing energy and consensus around universal identity in general, and OpenID specifically. In addition to the pioneering applications that are available now for use with OpenID, there are a lot of exciting applications in the pipeline, from a wide variety of companies and developers.
The VeriSign PIP is a free service. So what's in it for us? We believe that providing free, quality infrastructure for the OpenID-enabled community – identity services that are friendly, secure and user-empowering – will help create an environment in which a rich variety of applications and services will appear and prosper. As this ecosystem evolves and matures, the free, basic services offered by the VeriSign PIP and other OpenID servers will be able to enable more complex trust relationships and higher value transactions. There's a need now for basic functions that will improve the quality of the blogosphere: authenticated blog comments, open reputation systems, personalized tagging, social media filtering, etc. Over time, as the installed base of enabled users grows and the application set available for OpenID-equipped users broadens and deepens, the VeriSign PIP will be able to validate credentials and claims for it users that facilitate “heavy duty” transactions: blog based auctions and payments, age-based verification for dating and social websites, verified residency for surveys, polls and voting, etc. In some cases, the credentials and claims VeriSign provides for its users will be a fee to the user. In other cases, the subscribing applications will pay us a fee for qualifying and enabling users to participate and transact in a trusted, reliable context.
The goal of enabling user-centric identity is becoming more of a reality every day. But significant challenges remain; getting enough users and enabled applications spun up so that the ecosystem reaches critical mass is going to take a lot of work. We aren't application providers – we're all about infrastructure. What we can provide , and are providing, is a solid, safe, friendly resource for equipping users for the OpenID ecosystem. The VeriSign PIP is being opened up for use as a public beta now as a way to help encourage and accelerate development of OpenID-enabled applications and services.
The VeriSign PIP is not complete, by any means. As of this release, it's a good resource for getting an OpenID you can use and login to other sites with. The PIP provides a way to enter a lot of additional information to be stored in your profile, and some basic tools to organize and manage it. Applications that provide rich integration with the user's profile information are just coming available – they need identity servers like the VeriSign PIP to be available to make things work. I'll point these applications out here and discuss how they work as they are made available over the next weeks and months.
The VeriSign PIP joins a number of other OpenID servers that are available now to facilitate OpenID authentication. The next big step forward for the VeriSign PIP will be to provide smooth auto-registration and trusted profile exchange between users and applications. If you are interested in establishing your own online identity – one that you control, and one that works with an ever-increasing array of Web2.0 apps – I hope you'll check out the VeriSign PIP, and give it a try. If you are an application provider, we're taking our first steps on the infrastructure side of things, and hope that our service will become a enabling resource for your OpenID-enabled applications.