[Dave Birch] The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is backing a new initiative on online identity management.  The ITU Focus Group on Identity Management aims to bring "global harmony to identity management" through a technology and platform-independent solution because it believes the use of multiple usernames and passwords is a boon for hacking, identity theft and other forms of cyber crime.  I couldn’t agree more.  How this is to be achieved, though, is another matter.  It’s not clear to me how this initiative differs from all of the other initiatives but more effort is always welcome.  The ITU initiative says that it will bring together key players in identity management including developers, software vendors, standards forums, manufacturers, telecom firms and academia.  They aim to promote interoperability among systems by providing an open mechanism based on a ‘trust-metric’ system that will allow different identity management solutions to communicate.  I’m looking forward to learning more, starting by contributing to their wiki if I can.

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Meanwhile, I’m going to be discussing the real world of digital identity at a CSFI round-table on 17th April in London.  Here’s the invitation…

Are you who you say you are? Trusted electronic identity in a global network economy: A round-table discussion with Karen Wendel (Identrust), Darsh Johal (Shell), Dave Birch (ConsultHyperion) and Tim Jones (CSFI). To be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2007, at the City Club, 19, Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1DS, from 6:30-8:15pm.

Sponsored by CISCO systems

Ten years ago, in the corridors of countless conferences, people were huddled in conversation discussing PKI, or Public Key Infrastructure. Electronic identity was going to revolutionise communications and provide the assurance necessary to conduct business online, rather than face-to-face. The promise of the internet – to connect businesses and people electronically – was plain for all to see, and we were on track for a four year rollercoaster of irrational exuberance.

Fast forward to today, and the silence is deafening. There is no ubiquitous assured identity service that enables us to sign emails or electronic contracts. Indeed, if you sit on a board in the US you still have to FedEx your physical signature in order to file the annual company return to the SEC.

So what didn’t happen – why hasn’t the promise of PKI been fulfilled? And will the next few years finally see the emergence of corporate strength identity services? To clear the mist from our crystal balls, we are delighted to welcome Karen Wendel, chief executive of IdenTrust Inc – which is probably the leading contender to crack the trust conundrum. Created by a number of the world’s leading banks in the late 1990s, IdenTrust is finally starting to gain traction. Indeed, 60-70% of BACS payments are now underpinned by credentials issued by member banks to customers under the IdenTrust scheme.

Giving us a customer perspective is Darsh Johal, head of global cash management at Shell Treasury in London – someone who knows what he wants to smooth the workflow of a global corporation, taking paper based processes out of the system.

Keeping both of them honest will be Dave Birch of Consult Hyperion. Dave is well-known to many as an über-geek in digital identity (and digital money) and has run the Digital Identity Forum in London for the past seven years.

Finally, the CSFI’s own geek, co-director Tim Jones, will talk through his own ideas on how to tackle the problem that people, at least in the consumer space, just don’t trust many of the potential providers of identity solutions.

This is important stuff, and has the potential to be a true game-changer across the commercial world. It promises to be a fascinating evening and we are grateful, as ever, to Cisco Systems for their sponsorship of the event.  If you or a colleague would like to join us, please would you let us know by phoning the Centre (020 7493 0173) or emailing carla@csfi.org.uk. As usual, wine and sandwiches will be provided.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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