6/23/2008
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Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, PayPal, Others Launch New Digital ID Forum

Nonprofit Information Card Forum established to unite various industry efforts for building online information identities to replace the username/password model



A new nonprofit founded by heavy hitters like Microsoft, Oracle, PayPal, Novell, and Equifax to promote and speed industry-wide adoption of online digital identities has launched today. The Information Card Foundation (ICF) hopes to unite the various industry efforts and vendor products for Internet-based information cards and virtual wallets, its founders say.

“We need a community organization that’s neutral and can advance this technology and bring it into the world,” says Paul Trevithick, chair of the ICF.

Efforts to build out an online digital identity infrastructure have been stymied by interoperability issues and confusion over multiple industry efforts and vendor products. The ICF plans to use existing and new data exchange and security protocols, standards, and software in its efforts to push the adoption of personal digital identities that can be shared among online entities.

“Rather than logging into Web sites with usernames and passwords, information cards let people ‘click-in’ using a secure digital identity that carries only the specific information needed to enable a transaction,” said Charles Andres, executive director for the Information Card Foundation, in a statement. “Additionally, businesses will enjoy lower fraud rates, higher affinity with customers, lower risk, and more timely information about their customers and business partners.”

In an interview last week, Andres said the ICF will promote the concept of information cards as a metaphor for getting users to adopt online identities. “The Internet was never really designed for dealing with people proving who they were. As a result, we have been left with a world of too many user names and passwords,” he says. “Criminals can exploit the weaknesses in here... We’ve got to do something to make this better.”

The idea is for users to be able to control the distribution of their personal data in each information card, which they would set up for various purposes. That data gets stored in an online wallet, and users would present the ID with the click of the mouse.

The ICF "is reaching out to OpenID and the Liberty Alliance," for instance, says ICF's Trevithick.

But whether or not the ICF can bring all of the online digital ID entities and technologies under one roof is unclear. Andras Cser, senior analyst for security and risk management at Forrester Research, says the ICF’s success hinges on several factors: “How well it gets adopted by the community by providing a client-independent solution to the end user, and how well it can interoperate with existing efforts like Project Concordia, the Liberty Alliance, and OpenID,” Cser says. Also, it depends on how motivated the enterprise federation market is to adopt a new technology, he adds.

ICF founders maintain that there’s been plenty of progress in information card technologies over the past year, as well as several interoperability demonstrations. What’s been missing is a central organization to move the standards forward and to drive adoption, they say.

The ICF’s other founding members are Aristotle, A.T.E. Software, BackgroundChecks.com, FuGen Solutions, the Fraunhofer Institute, Fun Communications, Gemalto, IDology, IPcommerce, ooTao, Parity Communications, Ping Identity, Privo, Wave Systems, and WSO2.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)
  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)
  • PayPal

    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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