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Yahoo! backs! OpenID!

Password complexity be damned

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Yahoo! has pledged to support OpenID from the end of the month, giving a massive boost for the online identity framework that aims to cut password headaches.

Yahoo.com and sister site flickr.com will add support for OpenID 2.0, Yahoo! said on Thursday. Separately, Google's Blogger confirmed yesterday plans to become an OpenID provider.

The developments mean that users will be able to use Blogger URLs or Yahoo! IDs to sign onto other OpenID compliant websites. Yahoo's support is based on a version of the technology ratified in December.

OpenID enables users to consolidate their internet identity, eliminating the need to create separate IDs and logins for numerous websites they may visit.

Around 9,000 websites support OpenID. Yahoo!'s involvement will triple the number of OpenID accounts from around 120m to 368m. OpenID is in the adoption phase, and counts AOL as a supporter. Microsoft, Sun and Novell are also affiliated with the initiative, while maintaining their own separate, probably competing, password simplification initiatives. Sun and Novell are members of the Liberty Alliance, and Microsoft has Passport and CardSpace.

Unlike earlier initiatives such as Microsoft's Passport, OpenID has a distributed architecture where login credentials are not stored centrally. In response to misgivings about Passport, Microsoft changed tack with Vista. The CardSpace system built into Vista gives users more control over managing their identities.

OpenID has its critics: some say it is a potentially tempting target for phishing attacks. ®

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