Media titan AOL Time Warner is to join a thirty-two strong alliance of companies aiming to combat Microsoft’s current dominance of the fledgling market for online identity services and registration.

Dubbed the Liberty Alliance, and led by Sun Microsystems, the coalition’s members also include such giants as United Airlines, General Motors and Fidelity Investments. It aims to develop technology similar to Microsoft’s Passport – a method of website tracking and accreditation.

AOL is already working on its own such system, codenamed Red Carpet. This, like Microsoft’s offering, will facilitate surfing between websites, making it unnecessary for people to remember passwords or re-key personal details each time a new site is visited. AOL’s commitment to the coalition will almost certainly result in the adoption of a single global standard to rival Microsoft, rather than two – or more– alternatives had it remained aloof.

Microsoft’s present dominance in this arena has raised widespread concern that the software mammoth is poised to amass vast amounts of personal consumer data about surfing and internet shopping patterns.

News source: Financial Times