Microsoft's Identity Chief: After Passport, Microsoft is rethinking identity

Microsoft's Identity Chief: After Passport, Microsoft is rethinking identity

Summary: There was a period -- a long period at that -- when Microsoft was viewed as the evil empire of identity. So dasterdly was its Passport technology, some felt, that Microsoft's identity strategy had to be about a continuation of its domineering practices.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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There was a period -- a long period at that -- when Microsoft was viewed as the evil empire of identity. So dasterdly was its Passport technology, some felt, that Microsoft's identity strategy had to be about a continuation of its domineering practices.Kim Cameron The strategy even gave rise to an alliance -- the Sun-led Liberty Alliance -- to pull the rug out from underneath it and force Microsoft to come take a seat at the identity standards table. To date, Microsoft still is sitting the Liberty Alliance out, but to hear the Redmond, Wash.-based company's chief identity architect and strategist Kim Cameron speak can't help but leave with the feeling that Microsoft has finally decided to mend its ways.

Using words like "open" and "standards," Cameron is not only leaning on insiders at Microsoft, all the way up to Bill Gates, to mend fences and adopt more of an open position; he's leaning on the industry for an identity breakthrough. Until it does, claims Cameron, technology will remain forever shackled from some of the most explosive growth that awaits it -- growth that he likens to a big bang.Podcast I caught up with Cameron at PC Forum for an interview that's available as both an MP3 download and as podcast that you can have downloaded to your system and/or MP3 player automatically (see ZDNet's podcasts: How to tune in). Cameron went deep, painting an easy-to-visualize picture of how the complex concept of digital identity works, what his immutable laws for it are, and why it's so important to solve the identity problem right now. Here are some highlights of what he had to say.

Cameron on what his job is: My job is to make sure that people do the right things in creating a new era of computing that is based on people knowing who they're dealing with instead of just an anonymous structure like the one we work in.

The three dimensions of identity defined:
anonymity, uni-directional indentity, and multi-directional identity.

Cameron's very un-Passport-like thinking:
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. So, if I go to Amazon and then I go to a government Web site and then later I go to a Web site that sells music or something, I don't want all of those sites to develop a marketing practice of putting together a generalized biography of me, Kim Cameron, the consumer.

Cameron on the mistake Microsoft made:
Passport began supporting unidirectional identifiers. Over time, it changed to omnidirectional because the Web sites wanted to be able to amalgamate digital dossiers in order to market to us better. Nobody thought very deeply about what these issues meant in terms of how people would react. The technology evolved, I think, in the wrong direction....We tried to do something that we thought was in the right direction but it wasn't well thought out... We need to rethink how you build this identity system in such a way that it behaves the way people expect it to behave.

Cameron on what will happen once everyone agrees on how to handle identity:
There will be a big bang once we get an [identity] infrastructure in place that hits the tipping point. That's going to be a big deal.

Topic: Microsoft

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25 comments
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  • leaning on insiders

    I think Cameron is not only leaning on insiders at Microsoft, all the way up to Bill Gates, to mend fences and adopt more of an open position, he's leaning on the industry for an identity breakthrough.

    Danny
    <a href="http://www.marketingtops.net">Web Hosting - marketingtops.net</a>
    ip_fresh9
  • leaning on insiderss

    I think Cameron is not only leaning on insiders at Microsoft, all the way up to Bill Gates, to mend fences and adopt more of an open position, he's leaning on the industry for an identity breakthrough.

    Danny
    http://www.marketingtops.net
    ip_fresh9
  • Help me understand

    An MS spokesvoice is now admitting that Passport wasn't the be-all and end-all of identity management? This leads to the question of whether the world would be a better place if MS had succeeded in forcing its adoption.

    More to the point, what does this imply about current and future MS attempts to unilaterally dictate the course of computing?
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Translation: We have to be even sneakier....

    if we are to dominate the world and control everyone's computing experience.

    Microsoft got blown out of the water with Passport because enough people were able to figure out what game Microsoft was playing. They were of course trying to gain control over the personal information of any web user stupid enough to use their proprietary identity software.

    Whoever this "identity officer" (or whatever) is at Microsoft, he's likely just blowing smoke. I'll believe that Microsoft wants to adhere completely to open standards when I see donkeys sprout wings and fly.

    Microsoft is trying to put on a kinder, gentler shell, but underneath it's still the same old dictatorial slimebags.
    shawkins
    • Maybe

      Microsoft may be considering that they are as large as they are ever going to be. They own 90% of the desktops, that percentage can only go down. They have major competition in the datacenter from UNIX/GnuLinux and may never be the major player in that arena.

      They may be planning for the day when fat client PCs are rare as chicken lips and we connect with everything from mobile phones to home entertainment centers, and the name Microsoft is heard in normal conversation as often as Avaya is discussed today. And in that day MS will need to be a big player in the background services that everyone uses because no one will care what OS their devices use.

      Or they may just be thinking they need to be sneakier :)
      alterego_z
    • You clearly see the light.

      "... underneath it's still the same old"

      Wise words and generally apt for most divisions within the evil empire.

      I'd support REAL progress made when the community at-large clearly see's and can lay hands on MOUNTAINS of proof that Micro$loth has not only embraced open standards, but comprehensively mended its ways. I truly doubt it is possible, but I can hope, can't I?
      Joe_Wulf9
    • Out of curiosity

      Just wondering if you listened to the interview and then said this or just read the description?
      kcameron
      • what part

        Just wondering if you listened to the interview and then said this or just read the description?

        Is there something we should be listening to?
        stemcellphone
        • Tying the thread to the interview

          Yeah - it is the mp3 of the interview with me that can be downloaded at http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/index.php?p=1188
          kcameron
    • Please check out my blog

      This just isn't true. Please check out my blog at http://www.identityblog.com

      I'm working toward an identity system that could increase privacy for everyone, and I'm working with many friends from the open source community to do this.

      And by the way, I'm not a dictatorial slimeball either!

      Come on over and meet me.
      kcameron
  • I can manage my own identity, thank you very much.

    Utilities like RoboForm give me single-sign-on while maintaining different and obscure user names and passwords (randomly generated at full strength) to my various web accounts. It's easy to do it this way, I don't need mined databases tracking my consumer behavior!
    shadar
    • True enough IF...

      ...you are not doing B2B or authentication across domains...but that is exactly what a lot companies ARE doing, and will be doing a lot more in the future, especially for outsourced services. Just because you do not have a need for a technology does not mean the rest of the world doesn't either. For true interconnectivity to REALLY happen, a universal authentication scheme is a MUST, and all players realize that at this point, including Microsoft.
      Stewart Cannon
      • Fair enough for B2B applications

        ...but as an end-user I have no need for it. That's why Passport failed.
        shadar
      • True interconnectivity

        Yes, I heartily agree it is necessary, and even agree that Micro$loth realizes this point.

        However, I'd take ANYONE else's solution, simply because it wasn't Micro$loth's, whom we KNOW from DECADES of experience is not an honest broker, nor fair.
        Joe_Wulf9
    • Agreed

      If you listen to the interview, I was proposing a system that would prevent the creation of "superdossiers" accross web sites.
      kcameron
  • Digital Identity is rapidly becoming more pervasive

    in the fact that anonymous individualism is going to
    eventually be replaced for secure, ubiquitous, 24/7
    realtime digital enslavement that is going to employ some
    kind of embedded "chip" inside everyone or attached to just
    about everything being manufactured or cataloged on this
    planet. This seems to be the reality and vision that is
    privately being shaped behind the closed doors of the
    global government & corporate infrastructures that''s
    pumping millions into our national college level R&D labs,
    etc. To bring about the One World utopia (NWO) of man/
    machine connectivity as a single entity enabling "peace and
    security" via digital implants and providing ID datastreams
    to permeate our atmosphere. No more cash or checks or
    personal forms of buying or selling unless one is properly
    "marked" with their EPC seal (RFID implants?) ...... just a
    perspective of what could become the global ecommerce
    model that will be mandatorily achieved and more with
    these type of technologies enabling such? Single sign-on
    authentification standards which are secure, foolproof and
    instantaneous is a beautiful thing if you're part of the
    Statehood! Aahhh ... just enjoying the last few breaths of
    FREE AIR!
    BillyB40
    • You should write a book about this

      Fascinating and distrubing at the same time.

      The really scary part is I think you may be right.
      Sunny Jalolly
    • Not quite

      The motive behind this is NOT what you suspect. This country is based on capitalism, and NOWHERE is that reasoning held higher than in todays government! The motive is PROFIT - not control! If implanting everyone and keeping tabs on them doesn't generate a profit, then it wont happen. If keeping track of people's interests in websites generates a profit (it does), then THAT will be the paradigm. Does the government pass laws to drill oil in wildlife refuges - so it can CONTROL something - or because there are profits to be made? Putting RFIDs in indigent people - who have no money - won't happen. No money in it.
      Roger Ramjet
      • Thanks, Roger

        Your posts usually stimulate my brain cells and make me think about things. And that is always a good thing.
        Sunny Jalolly
        • Stimulation

          If you like my posts, why not read my website stuff?
          http://thesolver.servebeer.com

          I like the purchase of Baja story . . .
          Roger Ramjet