Firefox’s Plan to Kick the Login’s Butt

Firefox gets distributed social networking and identity management.

The good people who work on the revolutionary, open-sourced, and occasionally maligned browser have been hard at work on making cross-site navigation and portable IDs a solvable problem. A discrete button to the left of the URL that can tell users whether or not they are logged in to a particular site and allow them to log in without further navigation? Accuse us of punning, but definitely sign us up. Google Chrome: Start taking notes.

Our friends at Mozilla posted this teaser back in the spring, when they touted a way to eliminate clicks and keystrokes between navigating to and being recognized by a given website.

Our own Marshall Kirkpatrick enthused, “Earlier this week, we argued that browsers and social networks were fast converging, and that with more users and some feature advantages, Firefox could be the best real competition for Facebook… This is just one more chapter in a much larger story – but look how easy this makes OpenID to use!”

But now, Mozilla’s UX chief Aza Raskin has posted more updates to his personal blog that indicate new hotness is coming soon. The new feature will harness the power of Mozilla’s Weave to make your online identity something that’s stored in your back pocket more than it’s stored in your cookies or a third party’s server.

Decrying redirects and iframes, Raskin tells of a brave new world where an in-browser button that defies navigational difficulties allows for something closer to true identity portability than we’ve seen yet:

Identity will be one of the defining themes in the next five years of the Web. Nearly every site has a concept of a user account, registration, and identity. Searching for “sign in” on Google yields over 1.8 billion hits. And yet, the browser does nothing to make this experience better save for some basic auto form filling. The browser leaves websites to re-implement identity management, and forces users to learn a new scheme for every site… Your identity is too important to be owned by any one company.

Finally! They said it!

And now, we give you screenshots:

So, what’s the verdict, readers? Does this surpass Chrome’s identity-porting capabilities? Does this create massive privacy issues for users who don’t want their personal traffic tracked?

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