white paper

Internet-Scale Identity Systems Overview and Comparison

A review of system initiatives and the similarities, differences and synergies among them


An Internet-scale identity system is an architecture that defines standardized mechanisms that allow the identity attributes of its users to be shared between applications and websites. This provides:


  • Streamlined and optimized online experiences for users
  • Greater protection from identity theft
  • Opportunities for customization and personalization that do not require the user to manually configure account information


There are a number of different technologies and standards initiatives designed to deliver an Internet-scale identity system — including SAML 2.0, OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0.


The protocols and technologies in this document create the promise of a secure, privacy-enabling Internet-scale identity system composed of heterogeneous technologies operating together in a compatible and cohesive manner. Such coexistence implies determination of the areas in which current identity systems like SAML 2.0, OpenID Connect, and OAuth 2.0 are duplicative in functionality and scope necessary to determine where and how these systems can be compatible.


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