Ben Laurie blathering

InfoCard Is Not All Its Cracked Up To Be

Kim Cameron recently wrote about why InfoCard is better than anything else. But is it true?

Here’s some specific criticisms. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Law 4, “Directected Identity” says

    “a consumer visiting a corporate Web site is able to use the identity beacon of that site to decide whether she wants to establish a relationship with it. Her system can then set up a “unidirectional” identity relation with the site by selecting an identifier for use with that site and no other. A unidirectional identity relation with a different site would involve fabricating a completely unrelated identifier. Because of this, there is no correlation handle emitted that can be shared between sites to assemble profile activities and preferences into super-dossiers.”

    However, as I’ve shown, this is not actually possible with any traditional type of signed assertion.

  • Apparently, InfoCard kicks ass because its inclusive of other systems. If it were true, then it could fix the problem above by supporting Stefan Brands’ stuff (shame its patented). But, amazingly, despite the claims made, no-one actually knows whether it can!
  • A specific example given of a system that could be supported is Sxip. Yet I am told that the UI planned for InfoCard is wrong for Sxip. What use is it if the protocols support something but the user has no access to it?

In short, there’s a lot of hype around InfoCard – but its increasingly unclear to me that it survives close examination. It seems to me that some of these issues could be fixed (linkability with legacy certificates does not strike me as fixable, though), but in the rush to get to market they’re being swept under the carpet.


  1. […] When small entrepeurial firms do this it’s reasonably ethical; how else are they going to get traction in the market. When large monopolist firms to it the ethics are much much more muddy. Which is something to think about when reading people’s critiques of Microsoft’s infocard. It is of course irrelevant to Microsoft if their designs go thru a legitimate standards process; just as long as it wins in the marketplace. Microsoft has cleverly attempted to substitute a conversation in among bloggies. The technorati are certainly audience you need to convince before a standard will gain great momenteum (assuming you lack sufficent market power to just command it’s success), but they are not a substitute for real legitimate standards making. […]

    Pingback by Ascription is an Anathema to any Enthusiasm » Blog Archive » Barndoor standards — 13 Oct 2005 @ 19:03

  2. […] Kim Cameron responded to my post on InfoCard. […]

    Pingback by Links » InfoCard no clearer? — 13 Nov 2005 @ 8:01

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