Stefan Brands on Dave Berlind's interview with me

I was taken aback to come across a post by Stefan Brands where he transcribes and comments on the ideas I put forward in an interview that ZDNet's cool David Berlind did with me at PCForum. I met Stefan recently at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference and he impressed me as a very talented technologist who really understands privacy and other security issues.

Just for the record, I want everyone to know that I'm not Microsoft's “Chief Architect”… That title belongs to Bill Gates… I am “Architect of Identity and Access” – meaning I'm the architect responsible for the identity software products: Active Directory (AD), Microsoft Identity Integration Services (MIIS), Active Directory Federation Services and so on. In turn, each of these products have someone working on detailed architecture.

Anyway, on to Stefan's piece:

Kim Cameron on the role of privacy in digital identity:

[4:31] “You need more than just the ability to be public, you need the ability to be private, it’s two sides of the same coin. ” [4.58] “Anonymity is [not] the most important aspect of things, but I think privacy is very important and the ability to protect is very important, as well as the ability to be public and provide access. ” [5.58] “Identity has to be able to be uni-directional or multi-directional or, basically, anonymous. You need to be able to support all three types of things. If you look at our current technologies, they are really based on supporting public entities much better than private entities.

[7.09] “If I as an individual go to a web site I don’t want the identity I use there to be shared between that web site and other web sites. ” [7.58] “I have a private relationship with each of these parties. Now, under certain circumstances I might be convinced that I should let them actually share parts of my profile because it will benefit me. ” [8.12] “We should not have a system based on this widespread profile being created automatically. So, in order to do that what we need is an identity when we are dealing with each of those that is just uni-directional, it concerns only the relationship between me and that web site.” [8.30] “The public model came along first, and everybody has sort of assumed that identity for individuals should follow that public model. That isn’t good enough, you need both the public and the private capabilities.

Wonderful! Note that such user-controlled (un)linkability would have serious implications for current online marketing tactics that thrive on the capability to link user activities without explicit user permission – including Microsoft’s new search engine strategy.

[11.24] “We need to rethink how you build this identity system in such a way that it behaves the way people expect it to behave. One of those things is the uni-directional thing, one of the things is don’t have any irrelevant parties in your identity relations. ” [12.10] “We need to have a unified way of doing identity that encompasses both our customers who are individuals and our customers who are enterprises.

Kim on two major shortcomings of Passport, user privacy concerns and service provider privacy concerns:

[9.18] “Passport actually began supporting uni-directional identifiers. Over time it changed to just omni-directional because the web sites wanted to be able to amalgamate digital dossiers in order to market to us better. Nobody had really thought very deeply about what these issues meant in terms of how people would react and so on. The technology evolved, I think personally, in the wrong direction.” [9.54] “Passport had other problems. ” [10.09] “People would ask: “what exactly is Microsoft doing between me and Amazon?” It did not make sense to people that the Microsoft site would be there. And a lot of the web sites themselves would look at it and go: “do I really want a Microsoft service between me and my customer base?” And they would say “No.”

On Liberty Alliance:

[27.20] “Liberty is a very interesting set of proposals and implementations. But it deals with some very specific scenarios which are from the point of view of a company that is in a circle of trust with some other companies and they want to share your profile. [] It is federation, in my view, in a particular set of scenarios. [] It is from the point of view of the company which is trying to provide a portal onto these other associated companies. That is different than the requirements of the consumer in general, for instance, or it is different from the requirements of a lot of companies who just want to manage a customer relationship. [] It could still function inside this metasystem that I am talking about. [] Just like I am trying to incorporate Passport into it.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.