Report on EEMA e-Identity Conference in Paris

Marcus Lasance has a new blog called IdentitySpace that brings us a comprehensive piece on the EEMA e-Identity conference held recently in Paris.  Reading it will give you a feeling for some of the conversations that are going on around identity in Europe.  I'll quote randomly to pique your interest:

“Olivier Delos of SEALED gave a good example of how e-Id cards issued by governments can be used to facilitate electronic transactions in the private sector. However ‘anti’ the privacy lobby may make us want to feel against such applications, the presented use case of a Belgian Water Company clearly showed what savings can be made when users are allowed to use their Belgium Citizen ID card as an identity service provider. 150,000 address change notifications are now processed this way in a matter of seconds, with zero manual input, zero errors and a user satisfaction rating of ten out of ten.

“Unfortunately this type of example where businesses are allowed to benefit from an infrastructure provided by government remain rare and citizen to government transactions requiring an e-Identity to be presented amount to only 1.7 transactions per year according to one study. Hardly what you would call a ‘killer application’. So the barrier to acceptance remains a big concern about privacy, even though according to Kim Cameron the technology is designed to enable the relying party to remain hidden from the Identity provider when privacy is a concern. Before ‘Jo public’ readily accepts this is the case, a lot of water will flow under the bridge unfortunately.”

I need to make a clarification. Out of the box, current Citizen Cards use maximum disclosure certificates and omnidirectional keys – they are only suitable for completely “public” identity contexts. But by using them to authenticate to identity providers that support minimum disclosure tokens, we can end up with true privacy enancing systems. If we accomplish this, then working together with privacy advocates, academics and influentials from across society, we can win the trust of Joe Public, who in my view has every right to be suspicious.

“David Ramirez showed an application of Federation using SAML V2.0 in the world of the converged networks of Internet and Mobile data access. For me the example of how SAML could be used to give law enforcement agents or ‘spooks’ access to mobile phone records was a bit unfortunate in view of the earlier privacy discussions, but I guess its one application of this technology which can’t be ignored. [Hope Conor reads this… – Kim]

“Kieron Salt did his expose on European Union funded research project GUIDE, an acronym for Government User Identity for Europe. This project is driven by the objectives of the Manchester Declaration which states that by 2010 all European citizens and businesses shall benefit from locally-issued electronic IDs for use across the EU. But we had seen from previous presentations, that there is plenty of scope here for identity fraudsters until interoperability issues are sorted out.

“GUIDE is not about creating a meta directory of all member states’ Identity data, but rather about creating a gateway providing interoperability between the different standards chosen by the different member states. The gateway for instance should be able to handle transactions between SAML, Shiboleth and WS-Federation schemes, if those are the three standards commonly used in Europe…

“Dr. Ruth Halperin of the London School of Economics and Political Science has conducted an in depth research project into the extent to which citizens across European Countries trust their authorities to exchange data in an appropriate manner across government departments, between governments and commerce…

“Dr. Halperin concludes from her research that in Europe citizens have far more trust in commercial organisations than in their respective governments, an opportunity that did not go unnoticed by the next presenter from Norway representing DNV – an independent foundation Established in 1864 in Norway for the purpose of independent assessment of the quality of ships to aid insurance companies in setting realistic insurance rates… So why not carry on this position to new areas like identity assurance in the digital value chains? PKI and digital signatures are key elements in securing such processes.

Marcus also covers the keynotes, including mine.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.