Opinity Inc., a San Jose, Calif. company that started an online personal reputation service, and Identity Commons, a membership organization based in Emeryville, Calif. that allows people to create and maintain trusted online identities, have started working on a combined service offering, Opinity CEO Ted Cho said Thursday.
Identity Commons allows people to set up what it calls an i-name, a unique identity that a person can use on e-mail systems or Web sites of all types to transact business or communicate with other people.
Opinity offers a service that allows members to "view, manage and aggregate his or her personal reputation" across the domains of their choosing.
The partnership will allow Opinity users to establish i-names while Identity Commons members will be able to access Opinity reputation services.
The two organizations will be ready to release their joint services some time in September, Cho said.
The partnership is designed to address the great problem the people have when they do business and meet people on the Web—a lack of trust, said Bill Washburn, Opinitys vice president of business development.
People need to establish and protect their reputations and identities in the real world, Washburn said. "It also needs to be done in the virtual world. We are both going to be basically involved in doing the work of reputation development, identity development and management," he said.
Each person provides and verifies the information that establishes an individuals reputation, Washburn said. But it also can be verified by fiends, family members or employers of the members choosing, he explained.
Opinity believes that as more people use this service a "fabric" of reputation and identity providers will develop who essentially vouch for the online reputations and behavior of those who join, Washburn said.
The assumption is that people will behave better if what they do on the Internet can damage their standing with the sites they do business with or the people that interact with them on the Internet, he said.
Washburn said the partners believe that as their joint services grow, they will be "contributing quite visibly to adding some civility to the Internet."
The partners also intend to be "agnostic" when it comes to working with other providers or identity management or reputation services, he said. For example, Microsoft Corp. is building an ID management technology into its Windows Vista operating system. Opinity and Identity Commons said they want to "at least be able to exchange information" with other such services, if their users want to use this technology.