ICF Makes Internet Safer, Easier for ConsumersBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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Microsoft, Google, Oracle and other IT heavyweights band together as the Information Card Foundation to make the Internet safer and easier to navigate.
Microsoft, Oracle, Novell, PayPal and Google are among the IT industry luminaries that have joined together under the banner of the Information Card Foundation to make the Internet safer, more secure and at the same time more open for users.
While the ICF isn't calling itself a standards body, ICF Chairman Paul Trevithik and ICF Executive Director Charles Andres say the goal is to influence development of an open, trusted and interoperable identity layer for the Internet that will help users remain secure while easing their path through various online sites, businesses and communities.
These two goals, according to the ICF, will be accomplished by creating Internet-enabled digital identities for each user using "information cards."
In a conference call June 23, Trevithik and Andres used the metaphor of a wallet to describe how information cards will work.
"Your experience online will resemble your day-to-day experience, in that you will have to present a specific piece of ID, like a driver's license, in order to verify who you are, something you can't do [currently] on the Internet," Trevithik says.
So information cards become a visual representation of a personal digital identity shared with Web sites and online businesses, he says. Consumers will be able to maintain multiple versions of these information cards with varying levels of detail and personal information, and will have the option to choose which cards to share with which sites, Trevithik says.
"Rather than logging into Web sites with user names and passwords, Information Cards let people 'click in' using a secure digital identity that carries only the specific information needed to enable a transaction," says Andres. Andres says information cards will result in lowered fraud rates and better security against phishing attacks as well as better customer service.
"Today, when we go from site to site, we have to remember different user names [and] type in unique passwords, and it's confusing and insecure," Trevithik says. "This is going to change the experience for people so they don't have to have phishing fears or Post-it notes with passwords on them floating around."
According to the ICF, the foundation plans to hold interoperability events to improve consistency on the Web for people using and managing their information cards, as well as provide industry branding so users can discern which providers are interoperable with their information cards.
Andres says the ICF has been working as a group for the last few years, though June 23 marks the first formal announcement of the foundation's work. So far, there's no firm date for when information card technology will be available.
"Trying to get all the companies that either have identity management products or support them to agree is always difficult, but fortunately, the market and the pent-up demand for simplifying and securing the Internet experience has helped us work together on this," Andres says.