Tech giants back ID interoperability project

The Kantara Initiative, which aims to harmonise ID management technologies and standards, has attracted the backing of companies such as BT, CA, Intel, Novell, Oracle, PayPal and Sun
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Intel, Oracle, BT and a number of other high-profile IT companies have backed the launch on Wednesday of the Kantara Initiative, which aims to bring greater harmony to identity management.

The project, which has been in the making for a year, is dedicated to examining ways of improving interoperability between different identity technologies and standards. It also intends to address topics such as privacy, which can be sidelined by purely technical discussions, according to Kantara.

"The challenges around identity go beyond just technology," wrote Matthew Gardiner, a CA senior principal involved in the initiative, in a blog post on Wednesday.

To date, developers have focused on solving technical problems, without recognising that the real challenges to identity and security revolve around issues such as privacy and trust, according to Gardiner. "The Kantara Initiative will focus on this in a way that is neutral to the underlying technologies," he wrote.

The same situation has led to a proliferation of identity technologies and standards, which often overlap and are often not interoperable, he said, giving SAML, Information Cards and OpenID as examples.

"The identity community cannot afford to create new, incompatible silos of identity on the internet," Gardiner wrote.

The initiative launched with nearly 20 proposed work and discussion groups, with topics including e-government, healthcare, telecommunications, identity theft protection and privacy, and public policy.

The project brings together more than 40 member organisations, and counts companies such as AOL, BT, CA, Intel, The Internet Society, Fidelity Investments, Novell, NRI, NTT, Oracle, PayPal and Sun on its board of trustees. Kantara was initially formed by organisations with a particular focus on identity, including The Internet Society, Libery Alliance, OpenLiberty.org and XDI.org.

The organisation aims to create technologies based on open standards, including IAF, ID-WSF, IGF, Information Card, OAuth, OpenID SAML 2.0, WS-*, XACML and XDI, according to Kantara.

It takes its name from the Swahili word Kantara, or Arabic Al Qantarah, meaning 'bridge', with connotations of 'harmony'.

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