Mozilla revamps BrowserID as Persona
Mozilla is renaming its BrowserID identity system as Mozilla Persona, but is not renaming the underlying technology. The new name was introduced in a blog post that explained that Mozilla Persona was the name for the "complete Identity offering from Mozilla", not just the BrowserID technology but also other identity services such as an identity dashboard and user data interconnections. The name BrowserID will remain as the "developer-facing" name of the technology, which was introduced in July 2011 and began being deployed within Mozilla at the end of 2011.
The name does clash with an older name, Firefox Personas, a skinning engine for Firefox introduced in April 2009 as a Mozilla Labs experiment and incorporated into later versions of Firefox. It allows users to place imagery in the background of the Firefox user interface. The Firefox Personas developers are already in the process of choosing a new name, because as a name for a skinning system Personas was found to be confusing. A poll on selecting a new more appropriate and more localisable name, closed on 8 February but the result of the polling has yet to be announced.
The BrowserID technology is based on the Verified Email Protocol. Verified Email Protocol uses the idea of "proof of control" for email addresses and assumes that the providers of email addresses already have sufficient means to identify and authenticate users. Users create a BrowserID account using an email address, which the system then verifies that they own. When a user wants to sign into a site, the BrowserID just confirms to that site that the user owns the email address and does so without disclosing the user's BrowserID account password.
The changes mean that the BrowserID.org site will, in the coming months, be renamed to Persona. It will host the new services and users will also sign in on there.