Yahoo users can now use their user names and passwords to access non-Yahoo websites supporting the OpenID 2.0 digital identity framework. This will reduce the amount of different log-in information people need to create, remember and enter online.
Already, almost 10,000 websites support OpenID, an open framework available for free, according to the OpenID Foundation. Yahoo's move is set to triple the number of OpenID accounts to 368 million by adding its 248 million active registered users to the rolls.
OpenID addresses one of several issues related to giving people more control of their online activities. Other groups are focusing on data portability, to let people move around the data and content they create online, so that they don't have to enter it manually in, say, every social-networking site they sign up for.
Yet other initiatives, like Google's OpenSocial, aim to create standard interfaces so that developers can create applications that run in multiple social-networking sites, instead of having to rewrite the same application multiple times for every site.
For all of these initiatives, it's critical for major Internet players to get involved, so that the benefits of standard technology and methods developed by groups like OpenID can have a real-world impact.
Unsurprisingly, Scott Kveton, the OpenID Foundation's chairman, hailed Yahoo's support as a crucial validation of the framework that will help spur its adoption by other large website operators.
Other major players that have expressed interest and gotten involved in varying degrees with OpenID include Google, Six Apart, AOL, Sun, Novell and Microsoft.