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Personal I-Names (=Names)

How is a Personal I-Name Different than a Domain Name or Email Address?

Domain names were originally designed for naming machines on the Internet. Email addresses are for sending and receiving email. Neither domain names nor email addresses were intended to represent the digital identity of a person --- the real individual whose identity exists independent of any particular website, blog, or email address.

That's what personal i-names do. Based on the XRI digital identifier standard from OASIS, the leading Internet e-business standards body, a personal i-name is a digital identifier you can use for life without fear of spam or identity theft because it works with new Internet protocols like OpenID, information cards, and XDI to protect your security and privacy.

What Does a Personal I-Name Look Like?

Personal i-names start with an = sign and can contain any string of characters in any supported language, plus dots or dashes. Below are some examples. See i-name formats for more details.

  • =example
  • =名字.例子

If you want an =name to appear as a web link in a regular browser, just put in front of it. For example:


What Can I Do with an =Name Today?

Login to OpenID-enabled websites.

OpenID is the new open single sign-on standard being adopted by thousands of websites. With OpenID, you no longer need a new username and password for every site --- you can use your own OpenID identifier and just one strong password. I-names are part of OpenID 2.0, and I-Brokers offer OpenID login service for every i-name they sell.

Use a personal contact page to prevent spam.

Want to put contact information on the Web but afraid to publish an email address? Don't be! Use an i-name contact page. Thousands of individuals use them today to maintain a public contact point without fear of spam or other loss of privacy. Also, it makes you easy to find because your contact page is fully searchable in Google, Yahoo, and other leading search engines.

Create your own forwarding addresses.

With an i-name, you can create custom digital addresses for any Internet resource you want --- your blog, your resume, or important files. These addresses will keep working for as long as you want them, no matter how often you move, change service providers, or change domain names.

Create your own services.

Do you have a creative idea? In addition to using predefined services offered by i-brokers you can also add your own. We call this adding "service end points" to your i-name.

What Will I Be Able to Do with an =Name Soon?

A new layer of privacy-protecting Internet identity and social networking software is coming that uses your =name as your permanent digital data sharing address --- an address from which you can share any information you like, with any person or business you like, for any period you like --- always under your control. This new software, called i-cards, is under development at the open source Higgins Project, and should be commercially available by Fall 2008. Look for an update here or from your I-Broker.

How Much Does an =Name Cost?

I-names are sold through I-Brokers the same way domain names are sold through ICANN-accredited registrars --- in both cases retailers set their own market prices. In general the retail price of an =name registration is under U.S. $12 per year, but check I-Broker websites for even more attractive offers.

For How Long Can I Register an =Name?

As with domain names, an =name can be registered for any period from 1 to 10 years. However unlike domain names, every i-name registration comes with a paired persistent i-number --- a permanent digital identifier that is NEVER reassigned. So if your i-name registration ever lapses or is sold, your paired i-number will always continue to preserve your unique digital identity and relationships, and it can be reactivated at any point in the future.

Can I Delegate Sub-Names Under my own =Name?

Yes. These are called community i-names, and they are separated by a star ("*"). For example, if you registered =example, you could assign your own community i-names to the members of your family:

  • =example*alice
  • =example*bob
  • =example*charles

Ask your I-Broker about their community i-name features.

Can I Move my =Name to a Different I-Broker?

Yes. All top-level personal i-names/i-numbers registered by an I-Broker are guaranteed to be portable across all I-Brokers.

Can I register an i-name in my native language?

Yes. Currently, i-names may be registered in languages that can be represented in the Latin (including ASCII) scripts (which covers many European languages such as German, Swedish and Spanish), as well as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Internationalized i-names are no different from ASCII i-names. The latter simply mean that all characters in the i-name fall within the Latin character table.

The rules are summarized as:

  1. There are three character tables - Latin, Hangul and Combined-Katakana-Hiragana-Han.
  2. Each of the tables contain a subset of ASCII characters permissible for registration, plus the additional characters for each script included in the table.
  3. An i-name to be registered must contain only characters that are from a single table. For example, an i-name that contains a Hangul character and a Katakana character will not be registrable.
  4. An i-name must not be visually similar to an existing registered i-name. This is determined by using data from the Unicode Consortium ( For example, if an existing i-name called =résumé is already registered, the global registry will not permit =resume to be registered.
See our language tables for more information.

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