Obama taps OpenID for government websites

Yahoo, Google and eight other top technology companies are participating in an effort to bring OpenID single login to US government websites as part of Obama's Gov 2.0 initiative

Yahoo, Google and other top technology companies have signed up to an effort to bring OpenID authentication to US government websites.

Ten companies said on Wednesday that they will support president Obama's initial pilot programmes to make it easier for people to register and use those websites. OpenID is an open identity system that allows people to use a single username and password to log in and authenticate themselves on multiple websites.

The companies — Yahoo, PayPal, Google, Equifax, AOL, VeriSign, Acxiom, Citi, Privo and Wave Systems — said they will act as digital identity providers using OpenID and Information Card technologies.

"By embracing OpenID (and InfoCard), the government is helping to further establish the value of owning one's own identity, and of having convenient, consistent and privacy-protecting mechanisms in place to enhance and enable participation," OpenID Foundation community board member Chris Messina wrote in a blog post.

The pilot programmes are being launched by the Center for Information Technology, National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

People will be able to use Yahoo, PayPal and Google IDs to sign into federal sites. According to the government, the use of OpenID will allow individuals to be more interactive with websites without revealing personally identifiable information, such as passwords.

Earlier this year, president Obama issued a memorandum launching an effort to make it easier for citizens to work with government websites. The Gov 2.0 initiative will "transform government websites from basic 'brochureware' into interactive resources, saving individuals' time and increasing their direct involvement in governmental decision-making", the Information Card Foundation said in a statement.