Identity Commons

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Identity Commons = a decentralized user-centric identity infrastructure

Also the name of a specific initiative to develop it.

URL = [1]


"Identity Commons is a community of groups working on developing the identity and social layer of the web. We are loosely connected sharing a common purpose and principles. Our main community gathering is the Internet Identity Workshop that happens twice a year.

We create opportunities for both innovators and competitors, for both the big guy and the small fry to come together in a safe and balanced space.

Our organizational forms are diverse including:

   * several dozen people on a mailing list
   * nonprofit foundations behind particular technologies
   * open source projects part of other foundations
   * autonomous projects working on market advocacy and development

We formed to facilitate information sharing and coherence this space and to support interoperability and convergence around open standards." (

Background to the Identity Commons initiative

Text from

"Identity Commons (IC) was formed in 2001 to evangelize the creation of a decentralized user-centric identity infrastructure and to address the resulting social trust issues. At the time, these ideas were revolutionary. Very few people were even thinking about these issues, much less doing anything about them.

IC helped change this. It not only raised awareness about the complex issues surrounding this topic, but it played an active role in helping create the necessary infrastructure.

Now, we are at a crossroads. The journey to this larger vision has been arduous, but in the past few years, user-centric identity has emerged as one of the most important issues concerning the future of the Internet. In addition to Identity Commons’ role in establishing the overall vision and in launching i-names and i-services, we’ve seen a number of other landmarks. For example:

  • Centralized Internet-wide identity systems are now widely acknowledged as being untenable. Most notably, Microsoft killed its Passport initiative, and Kim Cameron, Microsoft’s Identity Architect, has become an outspoken proponent of distributed, interoperable identity systems.
  • “Lightweight" identity systems, such as OpenID, LID, and SXIP have emerged. Several important players in the identity space – both old and new – have begun a more cohesive conversation about the issues surrounding identity under the moniker, "The Identity Gang" (see
  • Identity 2.0 has emerged as the de facto term for describing visions of user-centric identity, thanks in part to SXIP founder Dick Hardt’s talks of the same name in 2005.

All of these events culminated in the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) in October 2005, a grassroots gathering of roughly 80 people interested in learning about and advancing the cause of user-centric identity. This gathering was a turning point for the digital identity community in a number of ways. It helped spark the adoption of Yadis, a proposal for making different lightweight identity systems interoperable. It inspired interest in the concrete development of Identity Rights Agreements and a Service Provider Reputation Network. Most importantly, it demonstrated the importance of maintaining a neutral community space for continuing dialogue about these and other emerging issues. " (

Critique of the Identity Commons

See the entry on Digital Identity

More Information

  1. The newsblog of the ID Commons project is at
  2. The Yadis standard is at
  3. IndieAuth
  4. The Technopod blog at carries a number of critiques. See the entry on Digital Identity
  5. Open Source Identity Systems