The Internet is amazing. It’s connective and informative powers provide us with access to an entirely new and constantly changing universe.
But as individuals we have to realize that our online engagement creates an alternative, digital persona- a persona that can be judged as a Facebook profile, a Twitter handle or a made-up email in a Craigslist ad. And with the popularity of location based apps on the rise, the boundary between the web and real life is rapidly dissolving. Tru.ly, a Boston based startup presents an officially verified identification platform for digital personas. Translation: It’s your official ID for the Internet era.
In “real life,” you can’t enter a new country without a passport, drive a car without a license or drink at a bar without a valid form of government issued ID. But on the Internet, you can arrange a date, sell someone a car or stay in their home through AirBnB with little more than a matching email address, name or Facebook profile. While anonymous activity on the Internet has its place, it can also lead to offenses as mild as spamming to as harmful as stalking and defamation of character.
Tru.ly is the first and only free, peer-to-peer service that verifies identity against government data. While there are other sites that charge a lot of money to access this data for various use cases, they don’t integrate with other social media platforms like Tru.ly does currently with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (for free).
Here’s what my personal Tru.ly profile page looks like:
How it works
Tru.ly founder David Gordon is a serial entrepreneur in both consumer goods and Internet space. Prior to Tru.ly, he started WeGov a Gov2.0 advocacy firm. Gordon is joined by Ashish Datta, Tru.ly’s VP of Engineering.
“What we do is provide a mechanism for a higher level of verification. It’s based on government and social information, not just a user’s name and password,” says Gordon.
Once adopted by other websites, Tru.ly could replace the OpenID, oAuth or Facebook Connect as the next evolution of an official login. The site does not provide background checks. Building off of his work with WeGov, Gordon was able to navigate the waters of numerous databases, and pay for access to verifiable information such as credit data, voter roles, and proprietary data information.
When users sign up, the site takes your basic information over a secure SSL including name, address, last four digits of your social security number, birthdate and cell phone number and pings it against a database of existing legal information.
Tru.ly provides each user with a Tru.ly URL that displays their verified identification. Users can also pay $4.95 per year for a vanity URL, but we’ve got 1,000 free beta invites below. Once signed up, you can control what information to share and under what conditions and then apply it to multiple touch points over the web. With Tru.ly, you can even use a QR reader on your phone to validate a Tru.ly user on the spot as everyone who signs up gets their own QR code. Think of it as your digital fingerprint.
Why you will use it now
1. Request people to become verified when using online classifieds such as Craigslist.
2. Verifying people on social networks, including dating websites.
3. As a form of easy age verification on relative websites.
4. Verify and take ownership of your social accounts, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Check out their browser plugin, which will give your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin profiles an official looking trul.ly verified stamp.
The Future of Tru.ly
While Gordon and Datta are currently focusing on Tru.ly from a user’s perspective, it’s important to note that Tru.ly, at its base, is an identification platform. Moving forward, Gordon and Datta hope to engage the development community to create different applications/APIs for Tru.ly’s service.
1. An age verification API. Imagine never needing to pull out your ID at a bar because it’s on your phone.
2. A mobile identification application using QR code technology that could be utilized for a wide range of scenarios such as checking into an event or picking up prescriptions at a pharmacy. Imagine never having to have a membership card on you again for gas stations, gyms, grocery stores, etc.
Today, Tru.ly officially launched in beta. By clicking here, you can sign up for your first year and get a vanity URL for free. After their beta period, the yearly price to keep your vanity URL will be $4.95. You can also invite friends via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Login here. The coupon code to get a custom URL is: TNW224