Friday, February 16, 2007

Please delete my AOL OpenID

George and Conor discuss AOL's new support for OpenID, specifically how best to inform users of their ability to use their AOL ID at other sites. Given that AOL is the first major public IDP to add support for OpenID, it will definitely be interesting to see how they 'brand' it to their, shall we say, less than internet-savvy core customer demographic.

My issue is more fundamental. I did not ask for, and nor do I want, an OpenID from AOL. I use AOL for the following purposes
  1. AIM Instant Messaging
  2. Dulles meeting facilities
  3. Learning from George
I have no plans to expand beyond this list. The page at my AOL OpenID (redirected to an AIM page) is a horribly default & garrish pattern of red paint splots on a grey background - devoid of all content. I have never maintained this page and will not be maintaining it going forward.

Some will say 'So what, you don't want to use the AOL OpenID, don't use it, no harm done'. In a sense, they'd be right. If I can get over people seeing the empty ugliness of the above page (accessed simply by using my known AIM identifier) then I can let the AOL OpenID die a slow but natural death through lack of use.

But the real issue for me is not the page (even those pages I do maintain are only slightly less gaudy), it's the presumption on AOL's part that I want to have an OpenID with them, and their automatically enabling one for me without my consent. I already had (more than) enough OpenIDs with other IDPs (I am indeed waiting for a major public IDP to enable standards-based SSO to/from external properties but AOL is not that provider). I had only just recently consolidated on a preferred OpenID IDP (Go ProtectNetwork!) because of their multi-protocol support - I resent AOL coming along and complicating my IDP selection process once more.

Is AOL's enabling OpenID for me even consistent with the Terms of Service for AIM? The clause
AOL has the right at any time to change, modify, add to or discontinue or retire any aspect or feature of the AIM Products including, but not limited to, the software, community areas, Content, hours of availability, equipment needed for access or use, the maximum disk space that will be allotted on AOL servers on your behalf either cumulatively or for any particular service or the availability of AIM Products on any particular device or communications service. AOL has no obligation to provide you with notice of any such changes.
might appear to give them all the legal leeway they need except how can they argue that OpenID functionality is part of the AIM Products?

Even if so, it's a no brainer that I should be able to turn off unwanted capabilities. Let me turn it off and get back to the business of growing my list of OpenID IDPs of my own choosing.

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4 comments:

Rob said...

Sorry. Your caught in a world-wide-web. Be thankful that it isn't (yet) spammers creating a ClosedID for you and placing it next to Viagra and poker ads to boost page-rank.

Eric Norman said...

If folks use their AOL OpenID, won't AOL be able to track lot of their movements in cyberspace?

It's not that I would think anyone could have a motive to doing that :) :)

Tara Kelly said...

Chiming in late here - but combine this with the recent news coverage of AOL's not-so-safe way of handling passwords and ... could it be a disaster waiting to happen?

Anonymous said...

If you don't like it then stop using AOL services.. otherwise quit moaning about it.

AOL do not need your consent to setup a page associated with your username.

That is like saying that Microsoft need my consent to allow Internet Explorer to display a horribly default ugly "Page Cannot be Displayed" page if someone enters my name in the address bar ( like http://my-name-here/ ). How dare they! That's my name and I don't maintain that error page. Who do they think they are!?! GRRR