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OpenID is an open standard that describes how users can be authenticated in a decentralized manner, obviating the need for services to provide their own ad hoc systems and allowing users to consolidate their digital identities. The OpenID protocol does not rely on a central authority to authenticate a user's identity. Moreover, neither services nor the OpenID standard may mandate a specific means by which to authenticate users, allowing for approaches ranging from the common (such as passwords) to the novel (such as smart cards or biometrics). The term OpenID may also refer to an ID as specified in the OpenID standard; these IDs take the form of a unique URL, and are managed by some 'OpenID provider' that handles authentication. OpenID authentication is now used and provided by several large websites. Providers include AOL, BBC, Google, IBM, MySpace, Orange, PayPal, VeriSign, LiveJournal, and Yahoo! (Excerpt from Wikipedia article: OpenID)
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