Information Today
Volume 18, Issue 10 — November 2001
Table of Contents Previous Issues Subscribe Now! ITI Home
Liberty Alliance Project to Create Network Identity Solution

Thirty-three major companies have announced the formation of the code-named Liberty Alliance Project, a collaboration between some of the world's largest businesses and industries. The alliance will develop and deploy an open solution for network identity.

The charter members of the Liberty Alliance Project, which represent a broad, global spectrum of industries, intend to create an open, federated solution for network identity, enabling ubiquitous single sign-on across multiple Web sites and eventually across multiple devices connected to the Internet. The service will provide distributed authentication and open, platform-neutral network authorization from any device connected to the Internet and from traditional desktop computers and cellphones to credit cards, automobiles, and point-of-sale terminals.

The Liberty Alliance Project has the following main objectives:

  • To allow individual consumers and businesses to securely maintain personal information. This enables a decentralized approach to garnering personal or proprietary information, and promotes interoperability or service delivery across networks.

  • To provide a universal open standard for single sign-on, which users and service providers can rely on and leverage to interoperate. Internet single sign-on will allow users to log in once and be authenticated for a range of network services supporting the Liberty standard between and among Web sites and network services—even if those services are provided by different businesses.

  • To supply an open standard for network identity that spans all Internet-connected devices. This lets providers of network services—and the infrastructure that enables them—to adopt a neutral, open standard that's available wherever the Internet is available. This allows secure and reliable identity authentication across handsets, automobiles, and credit cards—literally any device attached to the Internet.
The alliance consists of companies that provide a broad range of consumer and industrial products, financial services, travel services, digital media, retailing, telecommunications, and technology. Charter members include ActivCard, American Airlines, the Apache Software Foundation, Bank of America, Bell Canada Enterprises, Cingular Wireless, Cisco Systems, CollabNet, Dun and Bradstreet (D&B), eBay, Entrust, Fidelity Investments, Gemplus, GM, Global Crossing, i2, Intuit, Liberate Technologies, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Openwave, O'Reilly & Associates, RealNetworks, RSA Security, Sabre, Schlumberger, Sony Corp., Sprint, Sun Microsystems, Travelocity, United Airlines, VeriSign, Vodafone, and more.

"The Liberty Alliance Project is committed to protecting consumer privacy and security while providing personalized services and products," said Piper Cole, vice president of public policy at Sun Microsystems. "The alliance recognizes that legitimate consumer concerns must be addressed from both a policy and technology perspective, and it is the intent of the alliance to build a framework that addresses both. The alliance will form a Privacy and Security Working Group to develop a privacy framework that will enable members to build strong customer relationships based on trust. As a part of this effort, the working group will consult with and seek input from privacy groups and government agencies."

"Dun & Bradstreet is participating in the Liberty Alliance Project because we believe information standards such as the D&B D-U-N-S Number will enable the growth of e-commerce and feed the adoption of Web services. In order to make e-commerce work, there is a need to adopt common practices and open standards for network identity. D&B is a key enabler of e-commerce, and we look forward to contributing and helping to build the universal information standards and protocols which will facilitate safe and trusted e-commerce," said Larry Kutscher, D&B's president of B2B e-commerce.

Any organization interested in joining the Liberty Alliance Project can visit for additional information. Membership is open to all commercial and noncommercial organizations. Liberty is still a code name for this initiative. The charter members expect to soon finalize an alliance agreement regarding organization and joint development of intellectual property.

[Editor's Note: The Liberty Alliance Project, led by Sun Microsystems, challenges a competing system from its archrival, Microsoft. For information about Microsoft's network identification system, Passport, and its recently announced "federation of trust," see the Focus on Publishing column on page 40. Some media reports said that Microsoft was invited to link Passport to the planned project, but Microsoft reportedly denied this.]

Source: Sun Microsystems, Inc., Palo Alto, CA, 408/517-5520;

Table of Contents Previous Issues Subscribe Now! ITI Home
© 2001 Information Today, Inc. Home