U-Prove general availability announced

* Microsoft will provide core portions of the U-Prove intellectual property under the Open Specification Promise, and release open source software development kits in C# and Java editions

Two years ago, when Microsoft acquired Credentica and the technology called "U-Prove" (which uses cryptography and multi-party privacy features to facilitate "minimal disclosure" so a user can reveal only the bits of information about themselves they want to while protecting their privacy) Kim Cameron Microsoft's Identity Architect Kim Cameron promised that it would be made available for all platforms.

Two years ago, when Microsoft acquired Credentica and the technology called "U-Prove" (which uses cryptography and multi-party privacy features to facilitate "minimal disclosure" so a user can reveal only the bits of information about themselves they want to while protecting their privacy), Microsoft's Identity Architect Kim Cameron promised that it would be made available for all platforms.

 In his words, "it is elementary … that identity technology must work across boundaries, platforms and vendors." But he cautioned: "That doesn't mean it is trivial to figure out the best legal mechanisms for making the intellectual property and even the code available to the ecosystem. Lawyers are needed, and it takes a while." It, in fact, took two years.

But last week, at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group, announced the general availability of U-Prove -- and not just in Microsoft products.

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Charney, in a keynote address to the conference, explained that identity solutions that provide more secure and private access to both on-site and cloud applications are key to enabling a safer, more trusted enterprise and Internet. And as part of that effort, Microsoft was releasing a community technology preview of the U-Prove technology. In order to encourage broad community evaluation and input, Charney also announced that Microsoft is providing core portions of the U-Prove intellectual property under the Open Specification Promise, as well as releasing open source software development kits in C# and Java editions.

When Microsoft acquired Credentica I said: "The elegance of the U-Prove technology -- and the iron-clad security it gives --  should be the final nudge Cardspace needs to set it on the road to being the dominant SSO technology, first on the Web and then later in the enterprise. The key factor is the privacy issue -- U-Prove makes transactions unlinkable on any level by any party -- even the SSO identity provider! There is nothing else in the SSO space that even comes close." This is as true today as it was then.

U-Prove, when embedded within identity exchanging services, enables a degree of control, privacy and that "warm, fuzzy feeling" that nothing bad will happen to your data which is not now, nor ever has been, available for transactions, resource security and general data sharing. This is big.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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