Mozilla Starting To Deploy BrowserID

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 19, 2011
Updated • Mar 10, 2015

Remember BrowserID, the Internet sign-in system developed by Mozilla? The project went silent shortly after the initially announcement in July and it was not really clear if Mozilla was going forward with it or putting it on ice for the time being.

A recent post on the Mozilla Identity team blog revealed that Mozilla was working on BrowserID during that time. The organization plans to deploy BrowserID on all Mozilla web sites in the coming months.

Let me give you a quick fresh up. BrowserID steps away from the username and password log ins on today's Internet. It instead concentrates on email addresses, and in this particular case on verifiable addresses.

If a user can verify their email address, they can as well use the account linked to that email address. That's the basic idea. The technology that powers BrowserID uses a public private key system.

Some of the benefits should be obvious. User's can register and log in more easily on web sites that support the new sign in system.

In the case of Mozilla and Mozilla owned web sites, users need one BrowserID account instead of multiple accounts that may even use different passwords. Even better, they only need their email address to log in and not a password.

The core difference to other sign-on systems like OpenID, Twitter, Facebook Connect, Google or Yahoo is that the identity provider will not be involved directly in the login process. In addition, data is not shared between sites. That's great from a privacy perspective.

In addition, users can link multiple email accounts to their BrowserID account which makes it possible to use different email addresses for specific web sites.

It remains to be seen if other sites and services will implement BrowserID as one or even the only sign on system. More information are available at the Mozilla Identity blog.

Update: Mozilla launched Persona, a login system based on BrowserID. It can be set up with an email address and a password unless Yahoo or Gmail is used as the email as this is then not necessary.

Probably the biggest advantage of Persona over other login systems is that it only asks for the email address which means that you don't need to supply personal information.


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  1. Ken Saunders said on November 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks for the update.

    “sing-on systems”

    You can delete this comment. :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks, corrected it ;)

  2. Midnight said on November 20, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I like that idea and I will check it out, for sure!

    Great post, martin. Thanks! :)

  3. Ronald said on November 20, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Its essentially openid.
    Other browser makers would be utterly stupid to implement such a critical lock-in to mozilla’s infrastructure.

    If other browser makers dont use the central login database mozilla intends to create and control and make theirs instead, that’ll only mean fragmentation, and a repeat of vendor lockin like with IE6’s activeX. Way to go, mozilla.

    Couldnt have Sync just been extended instead to provide autologin? Especially since it already can store passwords and can as a service help keep firefox users ‘locked in’.

  4. Paul(us) said on November 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Do I understand i correctly that thru this system of brouwser ID Mozilla (the same goes for OpenID, Twitter, Facebook Connect, Google and Yahoo) , can follow every move i (and my email account) make (to every website I go) on the internet?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      Mozilla tries to change that. As far as the others go, that’s how I understood it as you directly connect with their servers when you log in.

  5. Jojo said on November 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    How does it compare to OpenID?

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