Feeds

Friends of Sun rally for Passport-killer

They all agree it would be a jolly good thing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Sun has been hinting for weeks that it's rustling up support for an alternative to Microsoft's version of single-sign-on for web transactions, and it went public today.

The Liberty Alliance Project's mission is quite a mouthful: to create "an open, federated solution for network identity - enabling ubiquitous single sign-on, decentralized authentication and open authorization from any device connected to the internet, from traditional desktop computers and cellular phones through to TVs, automobiles, credit cards and point-of-sale terminals."

The initial roster of "charter members" is interesting: it includes none of Sun's server infrastructure rivals (IBM, Fujitsu-Siemens and Hewlett Paqard are missing, along with the PC OEM crowd) but has an impressive roster of wireless and cellular manufacturers: numbering handset manufacturers (Nokia and Sony), carriers (Sprint, Vodafone, Cingular) and NTT DoCoMo which is both. Smartcard manufacturers including Schlumberger and Gemplus are there, and a few Sun customers who we imagine thought they were signing up for a Free! Prize Draw! of some kind.

Most interesting on the list is the presence of O'Reilly, Apache Group and Collab.net: they're recruited as conscience-keepers, we guess.

The strong roster of phone interests indicates that Sun recognises that the payment platform is likely to involve a smartphone, not a PC. With smartphones set to outnumber PCs at some point in the next decade, that's a good bet. Even without Sun's server rivals, there's enough of the wireless lobby signed on (no pun intended) to give the initiative momentum.

If the announcement looks like it was hurried out, we suspect it was. Until a couple of hours ago spokesmen were stonewalling enquiries on the Charter List membership, after IDG had gotten an advanced copy. And some of the web pages are still titled "Liberty Template".

Quite what technology is to be used is up for grabs, but it's likely to be Java-based given Sun's role in the group's creation, and religiously standards-based: anything else would provide The Beast with a turkey shoot.

At Santa Clara three weeks ago, we spent much of the morning haranguing Greg Papadopoulos and Marge Breya that Sun's web services pitch was essentially meaningless without an open, industry-standard single-sign on.
And this delivers that. Or at least, is the best chance of such an alternative to Passport.

So why aren't we deliriously happy? Well, there's little emphasis so far on privacy. The word appears once in the 979 word FAQ, five words from the end. And privacy is central to consumer acceptance of any kind of digital ID: without essential privacy guarantees the digital ID that Project Liberty requires becomes a back door to all kinds of database pooling - by marketing departments and governments - that isn't possible today. It could even, if we aren't vigilant, become your token for digital content as envisaged by Senator Hollings' SSSCA.

But it's early days as we say, and apparently it's not too late to change the name, either.

The Liberty Alliance Project sounds like one of those fringe libertarian nut websites that are entirely written using huge blinking Times fonts, that advocate legalising smack and helping protect the unborn by issuing them with handguns.

"Liberty is a code name for this formative initiative," says the press release.

Phew. ®

External Link

Project Liberty

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
VMware vaporises vCHS hybrid cloud service
AnD yEt mOre cRazy cAps to dEal wIth
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?