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OpenID, meet the U.S. government

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Ten top tech players said they will support President Obama's pilot programs to make it easier to register and work with government Web sites using OpenID.

The U.S. government has now joined the OpenID effort.

Ten technology players said Wednesday that they will support President Obama's initial pilot programs to make it easier to register and work with government Web sites. OpenID is an identity system for the Web that lets people use a single username and password to log in and authenticate themselves to OpenID-compliant Web sites.

The players---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. In a nutshell, select government sites are now using OpenID.

Obama issued a memorandum to make it easier for citizens to work with government Web sites and pilots are being launched by the Center for Information Technology (CIT), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Based on a statement, you'll be able to use your Yahoo, PayPal and Google IDs to sign into government sites. According to the government, the use of OpenID will allow individuals to be more interactive with sites without revealing personally identifiable information.

OpenID community board member Chris Messina wrote in a blog post:

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.

The government 2.0 promise is to "transform government websites from basic 'brochureware' into interactive resources, saving individuals’ time and increasing their direct involvement in governmental decision making.

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Larry Dignan


Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure