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Big Blue announces Big Brother smartcards

Everything we need to know about you can be stored on a card you know

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As part of its effort to become the dominant force in the ebusiness market, IBM has launched two smartcard enablers. Called the Internet Module and IBM Corporate Campus, they are designed to give companies easier access to customer and employee information. The Internet Module is basically a pumped-up supermarket loyalty card. It will hold a customer’s personal details as well a record of all their transactions. This can relate to physical visits to a store and to business conducted over the Web. It is part of the quest for the Retail Holy Grail - knowing what each individual customer’s shopping behaviour is. How often do they shop, what goods are they most interested in, do they respond to special offers and so on. The Internet Module smartcard is being developed in conjunction with Chip Application Technologies, a smartcard vendor. Corporate Campus addresses the problem of giving the right level of security clearance to individual employees. The idea here is that the bog-standard company ID badge is transformed into a smartbadge, containing an employee’s details. Used as a swipe-card, it will allow access to certain areas of a company’s offices and will restrict access to other parts. It could cover access to everything from the room that houses the company mainframe right down to the toilet. An added benefit to the more 1984-minded company, is that such a card can be used to track what time employees arrive for work, what time they leave at the end of the day, how much time they spend in the toilet, how often they visit the vending machine, and so on. A smartcard with Corporate Campus could also be used to restrict access of a different kind - access to applications on the network. With this in mind, it has been designed to carry a user’s Lotus Notes account details, allowing an individual to access their Notes account from any Notes-ready workstation. Corporate Campus will ship in the second half of 1999, IBM said. ®

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