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Created: March 06, 2003.
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Government Agencies Join Liberty Alliance to Support Digital Identity Standards.

Liberty Alliance has announced support from two key U.S. government agencies that are looking to the open Liberty Alliance Project to address digital identity challenges. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) "have joined the Liberty Alliance in its pursuit to develop open and interoperable standards for electronically managing identity information. The GSA and DoD join other Liberty Alliance members from both the private and public sectors, representing various countries around the world. The global collaboration of government organizations, corporations and consumer interest groups will prove invaluable to helping solve the complex technical and business issues associated with network identity that the Liberty Alliance is currently working to address."

Details from the Announcement

"Governments and companies are looking at how to use the Web to improve business processes and provide consumers and constituents with better access to information," said Michael Barrett, president of the Liberty Alliance Management Board and vice president of Internet Strategy for American Express. "Identity management is central to each of these things, and identity management is becoming even more relevant as an increasing number of transactions and relationships move online."

For example, eAuthentication is one of the Bush Administration's 24 eGovernment initiatives. The initiative was designed to verify (authenticate) the identity of citizens and businesses doing business with the government over the Internet. eAuthentication will enable the mutual trust needed to support widespread use of electronic interactions between the public and government and across governments.

GSA, the managing partner for this initiative, is responsible for the development and implementation of infrastructure for common authentication services across the Federal Government. GSA's participation in the Liberty Alliance is an important step toward the development of a common infrastructure to advance the President's eGovernment agenda.

Other government groups, on the federal as well as state and local level, are looking at how digital identity affects their own systems and processes. Some, like the Department of Defense, are joining the Liberty Alliance as a way to participate in the discussion and solve their identity issues.

The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) is responsible for collecting and maintaining important information for the Department of Defense, including automated power, personnel, training and financial databases. "We are involved in a number of projects where there is a need for secure digital identity," said Bill Boggess, Chief of Access and Authentication Division for the DMDC. "We are pleased to be a part of the Liberty Alliance's efforts to create an open, federated network identity standard that can be used across industries which will help us enhance our relationships with government entities."

Liberty and Third Party Identity Systems

Liberty Alliance recently published a white paper Identity Systems and Liberty Specification Version 1.1 Interoperability. It describes some of the emerging Identity Management technical approaches, explaining how the Liberty Alliance Project specifications can co-exist with these other technical approaches. In particular is treats these third party authentication systems .NET Passport, Ping ID, 3-D Secure, Shibboleth.

Excerpt: "Today, most enterprises, government entities and non-profit organizations have substantial investments in processes and infrastructures to maintain the integrity of their business systems. Much as the Internet has provided access to sources of information and the need to track in more detail the activities of members of these organizations, sharing electronic information about users of information is rising in the minds of the management ranks of these organizations. This has spawned the need to create circles of membership in groups that can validate identities of the consumers of information. As a result, new organizations are being formed by various profit, non-profit and governmental groups to address this need. The solutions that are being put forward by these groups provide opportunities to choose or integrate with a new class of service provider called the Identity Manager. This white paper seeks to address some of the emerging Identity Management technical approaches and how the latest version of Liberty Alliance Project specifications can co-exist with these other technical approaches. It is targeted to technical architects, project managers and other evaluators who are involved in building and maintaining identity applications and infrastructures... Network identity refers to the global set of attributes that are contained in an individual's various accounts with different service providers. These attributes include information such as names, phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses, credit records and payment information. For individuals, network identity is the sum of their financial, medical and personal data -- all of which must be carefully protected. For businesses, network identity represents their ability to know their customers and constituents and reach them in ways that bring value to both parties... Federated network identity and the infrastructures are driven by more than specifications alone. Liberty understands that all organizations will have multiple identity managers -- public, private or proprietary -- with whom it will have to coexist. Liberty Alliance is working to ensure that its specifications and deliverables will work with other existing and emerging organizations that will certify or authenticate network identity, most specifically in federated circles of trust..."

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