Musings on Digital Identity

Month: May 2024

Using Standards: Some Assembly Required

Identiverse LogoI gave the following presentation in the session Using Standards: Some Assembly Required at the 2024 Identiverse conference (PowerPoint) (PDF). The abstract was:

  • Standards are about making choices. When building machines, we take for granted being able to use nuts, bolts, wires, light bulbs, and countless other parts made to industry standards. Standards contain choices about dimensions of screw threads, nut sizes, etc., enabling a marketplace of interoperable parts from multiple suppliers. Without these choices, every part would be custom-manufactured. The same is true of the identity and security standards we use to build the Identity Engine. However, the identity and security standards at our disposal differ wildly in the degree to which they do and don’t make choices. Some consistently define ONE way to do things, resulting in everyone doing it that way (interoperability!). Others leave critical choices unmade, passing the buck to implementers and applications (your mileage may vary). In this talk, I’ll name names and take prisoners, critiquing existing and emerging standards through the lens of the choices they made and failed to make. Hold on to your hats as we examine the pros and cons of the choices made by OAuth, SAML, X.509, OpenID Connect, Verifiable Credentials, DIDs, WebCrypto, JOSE, COSE, and many others through this lens! I believe you’ll agree with me that making choices matters.

The audience was highly engaged by the process of giving existing and emerging standards letter grades based on the choices they made (or failed to make)!

Proposed Implementer’s Draft of OpenID Federation

OpenID logoThe OpenID Connect working group has started working group last call (WGLC) for a proposed Implementer’s Draft of the OpenID Federation specification. As described in the WGLC message:

OpenID Federation -35 has been published at and This draft is being proposed as the fourth (and hopefully final) Implementer’s Draft of the specification.

An Implementer’s Draft is a stable version of a specification providing intellectual property protections to implementers of the specification. The two-week working group last call ends on Friday, May 31, 2024. Unless reasons are identified during the last call to substantially revise the specification, the 45-day OpenID Foundation-wide review of the specification for approval as an OpenID Implementer’s Draft will shortly follow.

Special thanks to all the implementers and deployers who provided feedback to get us to this point!

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