Marshall Kirkpatrick’s claim that Vidoop is “a company made up largely of engineers with military backgrounds” makes for a great thriller plot, especially in the context of his National ID discussion over at ReadWriteWeb. That description, however, doesn’t reflect the Vidoop that I know. One of our developers was a civilian researcher at the Naval Research Labs for a couple of years, and one of our developers was in the Army long enough to spend some time in Afghanistan. That’s the extent of our military ties.
That said, there are some very interesting things to think about elsewhere in Marshall’s post. Like him, I’m not excited about being issued a National ID, let alone the prospect of having my OpenID inseparably tied to it. That just doesn’t make sense. I shouldn’t need a National ID to have a flickr account, and any such ID shouldn’t be associated with my search engine use.
But there are scenarios where being able to convey certain institutionally-verified claims about my identity online would be useful. For example, I miss certain wines from Washington State’s wine country because the State of Oklahoma won’t let me have wine shipped here. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want minors to have access to alcohol through the mail, or more likely it’s because they don’t want alcohol in the state for which they didn’t get their tax money. Either way, being able to prove that I’m old enough or that I paid appropriate taxes on the transaction are things that technology could enable in the near future, and there’s absolutely no reason that OpenID couldn’t be one of the protocols involved at the time I prove such things.
Remember that OpenID is all about putting control of your online identity in your very own hands, and there are built-in controls to make sure it will always continue to be that way. (The strongest such control is that anyone who doesn’t like the way the current Identity Providers work can always run their own Provider.)
Your identity shouldn’t do things that you don’t want it to do, but it should certainly be able to do all of the things that you do want it to do. And with OpenID each of us has the ability to want our OpenID to do different things.