California company 2idi wants to end spam by reinventing the Internet. Or, more accurately, moving everyone from the Internet to a vast private intranet.
Founded by husband and wife team Victor and Carol Grey, and partner Ben Labalme, 2idi’s i-name service is based on XRI (Extensible Resource Identifiers) and XDI technology, which in turn is built on XML technology.
The idea seems to be to build a huge peer-to-peer network, along the lines of Orkut or Ryze, but on steroids, through which you would get your email delivered, among other things. The model provides for a gatekeeper, known as an “ibroker”, to protect the borders of your own inner e-sanctum. In order for someone to send email to you@yourhideyhole (although the syntax would actually be @hideyhole#you) they must be allowed through by the ibroker, based on your preferences. Again, think Ryze.
Anyone can apply to be an ibroker, although at present there is only one ibroker: 2idi.
2idi claims that “i-names are the first universal private address: an address that you own and control for as long as you want to keep it. It never has to change no matter how often you move, change jobs, or change email accounts and always lets you control who can use it for what purposes.”
Funny, I have an address that I own and control for as long as I want to keep it. And my address never has to change no matter how often I move, change jobs, or change email accounts and always lets me control who can use it for what purposes. It’s called my personal email address, which yes, I do own, thank you very much. In fact I own several.
Pretty much all of the other things which 2idi claims i-names will do for you are things which are already being done, are fixes for things which aren’t broken, or which require you to put your online access security in the hands of a 3rd-party (the ibroker). A few examples, from their website:
“I-Name Single Sign-On: Finally, you’ll be able to register and login with the same name everywhere. The website will simply ask your i-broker to authenticate you, so your i-broker account password is all you need.”
Great, so now one single password, trusted to a 3rd-party, will get you in to all of the sites I visit and related accounts I use. Isn’t this exactly what banks tell you not to do, use the same password for all of your bank accounts and ATM cards?
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“One-Click Form Fill: When a website needs personal data, they can use your i-name to ask your i-broker, just the way a merchant uses a credit card number to ask your bank for payment. And just like any exchange of money from your bank account, you always control any exchange of personal data from your i-broker account.”
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Lifetime Change-Of-Address: I-broker accounts are smarter than bank accounts. When you share personal data using your i-broker account, you can ask it to remember this link and synchronize any future changes automatically. So when you move, change your phone number, email address, etc., one change at your i-broker can notify everyone you’ve linked automatically.
Not only is this something already offered by places like Ryze, Orkut, and the oft-reviled Plaxo, but personally I don’t want everyone I communicate with to be notifed of my new address, and I don’t want to have to remember to remove someone from a cached list in order to avoid inadvertantly sending them that information.
And last, but not least (well, ok, not last either, but the last that we’re going to visit for today):
“Trusted Email: I-names and i-brokers are also the key to ending the era of spam, viruses, and worms. Just as we developed the global banking system to provide a trusted solution to currency exchange, i-names and i-brokers will finally provide the infrastructure necessary to automatically verify the authenticity and integrity of email messages and attachments.”
For the life of me, I can’t imagine how this is any different than, say, whitelisting only those to whom you have sent or from whom you have accepted email (well, except that now you’ve complicated things with a 3rd party). Or perhaps trusting your ISP or spam filtering company to only let through email which meets a certain criteria. Any scheme to keep spam from your inbox is only as good as the technology, and the people applying it. Spammers are clever, and if there is a way for a legitimate sender to send you email, there is a way for a spammer to send you spam. In addition, as mentioned above, while 2idi is presently the only ibroker, anyone can apply to be an ibroker, including people whose idea of what constitutes spam is different from yours and mine.
When taken as a whole, while the i-names idea is initially intriguing, I realize that we already have a system which does everything that i-names purports to do, and more. It’s called the Internet.
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