Vidoop, the military, and national ID cards

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.


  1. Marshall Kirkpatrick
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post here. Re details of military service, I was told by the Vidoop CEO (real nice guy, btw) that the company’s encryption etc are strong in large part because of the Cybercorps experience of many of the developers. In this context, and with Kveton (whom I think is great) saying it sounds good to him – then I come to the conclusion that it’s ok to make the statement that I did. If I’ve misunderstood and overstated the case re Vidoop and the military, I’d love to be dissuaded. Either way let’s talk more about it when team Vidoop lands an outpost in Portland ;)

  2. Posted February 21, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    @Marshall, the CyberCorps part is true, but that’s not necessarily military. Common places for a CyberCorps student to serve include the NSA, the Naval Research Lab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, etc.

    I’m not upset by your characterization–I just wanted to make sure that we’re not contributing to rumors about ourselves. I really appreciate your thoughtful posts, and I _love_ being dragged in to conversations about the difficult topics out there in Internet Identity.

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