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The US DoD and the GSA Join the Liberty Project 182

An anonymous reader writes "The Liberty Alliance Project announced today that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have joined the Liberty Alliance in its pursuit to develop open and interoperable standards for electronically managing identity information."
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The US DoD and the GSA Join the Liberty Project

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  • Woo hoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by MeanMF ( 631837 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:41PM (#5464593) Homepage
    U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have joined the Liberty Alliance

    Great, that should really speed things up...
    • To be fair (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Raul654 ( 453029 )
      DARPA has a history of doing things the right way and at light speed for a govn't orginization
      • DARPA has a history of being successful at the things they do, and of taking appropriate risks to achieve their goals. Sometimes their goals and our interests have coincided (e.g., the internet). But they take their purpose from their superiors. Who are currently being lead by the shrub.

        I suppose that this is better than Palladium. And I can't say much else in favor of it. Personal information should be managed locally, with possibly id certification keys being stored centrally (to reduce identity theft only). But this isn't what they seem to be after.

        They want to 0wn you as much as MS does, they just don't want to be 0wn3d by MS themselves.

    • by cosmosis ( 221542 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:47PM (#5464943) Homepage
      Because THEY will be the ones, the corporations, the government and the DOD, who control our indentities. Any digital identity should exist to empower the individual to become a better, more informed customer, not a manipulated consumer.

      I highly recommend you read Doc Searles [] and David Wienbergers [] views on this [] to see why any implementation of DigID that is corporate centered rather than individual centered is PURE EVIL, and will be used for all sorts of nefarois things, from total erasure of shopping anonymonity, total profiling, and even BLACKLISTING. This is bad stuff, pure and simple.

      Planet P Blog []

      • Ahh yes, good old Doc. I am sure he'll talk about the ClueTrain Manifesto as well.

        I just scanned the article....yep he mentions that piece of crap.
      • I don't get how you rant about how Evil the Liberty Alliance is in one sentence and in the same breath claim what we need is individual centered and empowered standard - when that is what the Liberty Alliance is trying to provide!!

        The whole point of the Liberty Alliance, from casual reading and demos I have seen, is to provide a federated storage of identity data - so you, the customer, can choose a provider to store your full set of identity information (one hopes that would include even an individual being able to hold his information on a local server, but even so it means it's not just Microsoft holding the data in a giant juicy target somewhere). Then anywhere you go where you want to make use of the data, you get to choose what part of your identity you want revealed - for instance you could expose an address but not a credit card number.

        It's no good to rant about all forms of digital identification without understanding the form of what you are ranting against. This kind of witchhuntery is just the sort of thing that will give Passport a leg up and REALLY give you something to cry about!
    • Re:Woo hoo (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      maybe the Liberty Alliance framework be bundled with the Hurd.
    • As Big Brother-ish as the whole thing sounds, it's not even the tip of the ice berg. Part of the new PKI-X standard includes a way for your government to issue you a digital ID. As efficient as the DMV and social security office are now, I can only imaine how much fun it's going to be to have to get a digital ID - Yes, could you pee in the cup? Oh, and we'll need to swap your cheek for DNA. Blood drawing is at the next station. The last stop will be the retina scan and hand scanner. Don't forget to get your transponder implant on the way out!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:42PM (#5464601)
    The government supporting privacy kinda sounds like silicone implants supporting healthy breasts.
  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:43PM (#5464604) Homepage Journal
    The instant someone finds a security hole in this authentication system, everyone is vulnerable.

    The opportunity for fraud in a universal system like this is just waiting to be exploited.
    • no, the problem you describe is the problem of everyone using the same implementation of a standard. "standards" go through much more scrutiny than do implementations, especially when that standard is an authentication system.

      eg - recall recently one of the root dns servers moved away from bind in case bind were to have some unknown flaw that was exploited and used to shut down all the root servers.
    • by Fished ( 574624 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:24PM (#5464853)
      This is a valid concern. However, You need to remember the alternative: everyone developing their own standard and their own implementation, which may or may not be well done. Ultimately, this has been shown not to work: how many cases have we heard of where someone has broken into an ISP and stolen fifty billion accounts? Worse, how many have have there been that we have NOT heard of? With a federated system like this, the quality of implementations should be much better and, more importantly, the quality of standards should be much better. Encryption is not for the faint of heart - there are probably only a few dozen people in the world who know how to do this kind of thing right - and none of them work for Best of all, as someone has pointed out, with a large scale system like this, bugs will be big enough news to make the papers - instead of the current situation where it has to be 50000 people affected to even hear about.
    • Security by obscurity?

      If they have a security hole, do not suppose that a simple non-standard format will stop knowing the data content. Feeling safe with the format of the file (at least, if it don't have strong encription) is in fact another vulnerability.

      The main problem with not using a open, universal standard is that you tie you information (that should last teorically at least, forever) to some vendor format, if the vendor don't support that standard anymore, or the vendor is gone, then you data simply becomes inaccesible (specially if you have to thank DMCA to give you the inability to make alternative programs to open that format). And losing all your data is a major security problem, and is a risk you have if you don't use an open standard or at least a format that you own.

    • So what's the alternative? M$ develops a de facto standard?

      Great, we know the M$ track record for security.
    • I thought the liberty alliance system was hardened to this by several independant implementations. Also I think they are supposed to have security inherent in the system. You create pseudo accounts that are only chargeable by certain other accounts. No middle man attacks should work because of the encryption.

      Worst case scenerio, provided that the protocol is secure, is we get one of the root sites info (like a bank) and all the bank's accounts get screwed up. But we know how anal banks are about security.

      I haven't looked at the information that much, but I thought it was supposed to be pretty much PGP for online forms and accounts. It will make those things that you fear, harder to do.

      As much as I liked the project, it worries me when the government gets involved. The presence of the DoD always sends my paranoia up about 5 points on a scale of 1 to 10. They have no real need for this system except to track people.

      If it weren't for the Liberty Alliance Project though, you would have to trust your private information to MS(Passport), because sites in the future will require one or the other kind of verification.

      Which is less evil... DoD or MS? ... tough question. MS only wants money. DoD could want an Orwellian society. I guess I would have to go with Liberty Alliance still... if Passport became popular, MS would sell information and give it the government without a fight.
  • Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asparagus ( 29121 ) <koonce@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:43PM (#5464606) Homepage Journal
    The government's going to replace!

    My travel worries are over!

    Seriously, this stuff scares the crap out of me.

    How long until you need to sign up for the Federal Identify Network to get a credit card? A drivers license? A job?

    • Ever hear of a Social Security Number. Try getting a job or a credit card with out one.
      • Re:Great! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by asparagus ( 29121 )
        This allows the fusion of various networks of information.

        It's one thing for government agents to have to go through various levels of protocol to get access to all your records. It's another thing for them to have a central database of everywhere you've been and gone.

        We've created a system of laws where almost everyone can be procecuted for something. Now, we're creating networks of data that allow much easier manipulation.

        Piss off a higher-up?

        Database notes: Subject has been to Amsterdam.

        Action: Attach a +20% possibility of being able to bust 'citizen' for drug use.

        I know, you've never done anything illegal in your life and have nothing to hide. Tell yourself that when they come for you.

      • You might be able to get one in the coming years because of the abuse that this generation of the elderly are doing. All they do is complain about how their rent in the nursing home has gone up $5 or some other bullshit like that. So the goverment may just get rid of Social Security all together.
    • How long until you need to sign up for the Federal Identify Network to get a credit card? A drivers license? A job?

      Would you rather have to sign up for a MS Passport ID instead? If the Liberty Project is evil, it's probabily the lesser of two.
    • The government's going to replace!

      Now if they could just replace Orbitz so I could constantly feel like they were watching me during the 1,000 times a day I close that darn pop-up window!
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:31PM (#5464884) Homepage Journal
      As Heinlein pointed out through Lazarus Long,

      "When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about spce travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere."

      Other useful quotes at g.html
      • When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about spce travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere

        Are you suggesting that the best alternative to a Microsoft Passport type scheme would be colonizing other planets?

      • Ummm, IDs have been required just about everywhere on the planet for hundreds of years. So how far behind is this social collapse supposed to be??? 500 years??? More???

        I don't put any faith in anecdotes so vague that they can't be disproven.

        BTW, I'm looking forward to spice-travel... :-)
        • Really? I wasn't aware that natives in the amazon jungle, Sherpas in the Himalayas, or any hundreds of non-tech gropus in hundreds of locations throughout the world were "required" to have 'IDs'.

          Arguably the myrad of wars that we are seeing today are part of the result of the social collapse that has been happening.

          Most of the "IDs" that are in existance have not been around for "hundreds" of years. In fact most "IDs" from more than 75 years ago were actually affiliation marks, rather than unique IDs.

          I also am looking forward to spIce-travel, though I would rather see useful spAce-travel. Initially that also would require unique ID's, however low tech collonies very well may not require such, being more concerned with whether the next harvest will support the children bourn this season.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by terraformer ( 617565 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:39PM (#5464915) Journal
      Actually, the standards created by the Liberty Alliance could make a viable private option work so the Gov't does not need to get involved in the daily operational issues (No, I am not a privatization nut). The gov't only needs to be a consumer of those standards and decide to trust the authentication of any number of private partners in the aliance. Then, the citizen only needs to create an ID with any one of those competing partners.

      Think Kerberos [] cross realm authentication. If school x enters into a agreement with school y that students from each school will be able to use network resources on the other campus, the easiest way to manage that is to set the KDC to allow cross realm authen (using a shared secret) and then set up ACLs to allow any UID from the other school access to those resources that are to be shared.

  • by offpath3 ( 604739 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:45PM (#5464618)
    I just watched the flash demo on their website. Their demo was all about being able to link up your data on various websites. Their example was linking your airlines account to a rental car account. This really just sounds like improved data mining couched in convenience to the consumer.
    • Yeah OK. Sounds good.

      But for gods sake, why does the government need to get their fingers involved in this? It couldn't possibly lead to any good.

      Could it?
      • by Flower ( 31351 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:53PM (#5464968) Homepage
        The DoD and GSA have joined as affilates. They get to read stuff, attend All Participant meetings twice a year to get updates and make comments on proposals. They have no vote on any technology, PR or policy decisions.

        I don't see what the brouhaha is all about here. Not like they couldn't get their hands on the technology anyway. It is supposed to be an open spec.

    • Maybe they're just out to make it easier to implement the DoD's "Total Information Awareness" thingy. Y'know, get the public to do most of the work for 'em by putting all their relevent data into one convenient, easy-to-parse-and-mine linked database.

      -- Horse_Pheathers, really looking forward to the day when some government drone can not only easily find out where I work, but by perusing my credit records know how often I buy condoms. "Nice sex life you have there Mr. Pheathers..."

  • Alright! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:45PM (#5464622)
    Now we can make sure the all of our information from the government's Total Information Awareness project are available in a compatible format to any corporation who pays enough. Okay, I'm half joking.
  • by skinnydskitzo ( 624618 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:47PM (#5464635) Homepage Journal
    Who can't wait to signup? I'm filing this in league with the PATRIOT Act. Everyone needs federally regulated standards on network indentification. I'm envisioning a future where my permanant v6 ip address is on the back of my living/driving/working/eating license, and I can thank the LIBERTY Alliance for that!!! Ahh, I can taste the freedom.
  • the Total Information Awareness project. Gotta keep track of you somehow..

    • actually, this is for *internal* gov't networks. also, think why Liberty Alliance was developed - to compete with MS's Passport. I'd prefer Uncle Sam being non-MS dependent for such an important part of military networks
  • From the Liberty Alliance Project's privacy policy []:

    In addition to the information you knowingly provide us, we keep track of the domains and IP numbers from which people visit us. We also collect site usage statistics such as web browser types and page requests and track users' movements. This data is not personally identifiable and is used to more efficiently operate our business, prepare for network load demands, promote the services and administer the site. To the extent this information is associated with a particular user, that information will be considered personally identifiable information and will be protected accordingly.

    Aha! a website that actually prepares itself for the slashdot effect!

    • Hah, something else you might find interesting from their privacy policy (emphasis mine):

      How you can decide what communications you will receive: You may click here {add opt-out link} if you do not wish to receive further communications from the Liberty Alliance. We will use reasonable efforts to process any change you make as promptly as possible.

      Sorta like a TODO in code that was never finished, right? I'm glad the Liberty Alliance are on the ball here! Especially since security and privacy big concerns for them.

  • by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:58PM (#5464716) Homepage
    I'm glad to see the US government supporting an industry consortimum instead of endoring the single vendor solution from Microsoft (Passport). I hope MS' stock gets knocked down on Monday.
    • The U.S. government has had a clue in that area for a while. Last August, the FTC slapped Microsoft for false advertisement []. Maybe it is a coincidence that around that time, Microsoft stopped pitching MS-Passport so noisily and push it steaily without fanfare. Among other things the FTC charged that MS-Passport
      • fails to employ reasonable and appropriate measures to protect privacy and confidentiality
      • fails to provide better security than your run-of-the-mill online transaction
      • collected personally identifiable sign-on history, contrary to claims in its privacy policy
      That was an easy call, MS-Passport cannot be made secure [] even in theory, but it's reassuring that the FTC is more up to speed than the PTO.

      In regards to single-signon there is probably a lot that can be done with certificates and or keys to estabilish a consistent online identity, but with a minimum of personal data. The personal data, if needed at all, has no need to be kept together with the keys.

      Corporations have now gotten to the point where they must be obliged to respect the Bill of Rights and other legislation just as governments. They [proven] risk and damage from abuse is just to harmful otherwise.

  • by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:01PM (#5464739) Homepage
    about Liberty Alliance as something like it's some sort of individual tagging system? I thought it was some sort of alternative cross-site authentication system to challenge Microsoft's Passport technology?

    Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it amazing how the DARPA TIA program gets limboized by congress, is effectively DOA, and then the DOD just HAPPENS to jump onto the Liberty Project? What's Poindexters new position, DOD rep. to the Liberty Project?

    LOL, I mean JESUS, just how stupid do they think we ar... mmmm, donuts....

  • My Identity Dream (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argoff ( 142580 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:30PM (#5464881)
    I dream that I will be able to get health insurence, open bank accounts, go to college, get a job, and retire without using that *** ** **** social security number. I dream that we get rid of it and the ponzi retirement scheme that comes along with it.

    I dream that my license will actually be linked to my prooven ability to drive safely, and not other issues like child support or failure to file state taxes, drinking a beer in the dorms, etc.... And that I won't be tracked and stored in massive centralized gov databases that have almost always prooven to be totally screwed up. (getting rid of frivolous tickets wile you're at it would be nice too)

    I dream that I won't be harassed when I try to buy beer, ciggarates, and spray paint (one time I was even carded because I tried to buy a cigarette lighter).

    I dream that my right to bear arms won't be nickled and dimed to death by people wanting to register me in govt databases like the Nazi's had before they confiscated all privately owned guns from its citizens.

    I dream that my credit will only be checked when I want a loan from the bank, and not when I just want a debit card, not when a bank wants to send me a credit card offer that I half to shred before I throw out, and not when I try to get auto insurance.

    Can you think of any others...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      sorry I forgot a few....

      I dream that I can rent a private mailbox without registering 2 forms of ID with the US postal authority (not a PO box mind you). And that the next time the US post office faces competition from people who offer better service, they will try to compete on service rather than impose new federal postal regulations.

      I dream that I can register my own domain name without exposing my personal home address to every pervert on the internet and email address to every spammer in existence.

      I dream that I can get phone, gas, electric, and internet service - where paying for them is good enough - other forms and paperwork and ID not being neecissary.

      I dream that the government can find a way to opperate without requiring plates on my car like they can find a way to survive without requiring a publicly displayed ID on 99% of the other stuff I own.

      I dream that next time I rent an appartment, being able to pay and show respect for property will be good enough. No backgound checks, credit checks, listing everywhere you've lived for the last 7 years etc...

      ok, that should be enough for now....
      • I dream that I can register my own domain name without exposing my personal home address to every pervert on the internet and email address to every spammer in existence.
        You may want to try Domains By Proxy [].
  • Ironic that they would call a "tracking system" the "Liberty Project". If anything this REMOVES personal liberty.

    Identity information basically means "government tracking".
    • I especially like the part where they say that because it's an open standard, we consumers will be allowed to CHOOSE who maintains our identity.

      Not only that but we could even be given the choice of having an anonymous online identity which could only be 'tracked' to an account number with the only access given to an individual with the right password...

      Now if you go about saying "Hey I'm #58274923793 at the Westfalia Inc. identity depot!" "Track me!" then you might have a problem.

      Reality steps in of course and says that yes you will be tracked to a degree, but certainly no more than you are being tracked at the present and with no finer granularity than at present either. In fact if you're the average joe, why would anyone care to track you? Marketing?

  • GSA (Score:1, Funny)

    The Girl Scouts of America are entering the Homeland Security field? Who will sell the cookies?
  • by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:39PM (#5464918) Homepage
    To all the people who are freaking out about this "evil" technology, please keep in mind, the Liberty Alliance is developing an OPEN alternative to Microsoft's own "Passport" system. So, the gummit getting behind Liberty Alliance is a Good Thing(tm), relatively speaking. They could be getting behind Passport instead. And then, instead of just needing to have your Liberty Alliance ID tatooed on your forehead, you would have to have your MS-Passport ID tatooed on your forehead, and you would be legally forbidden to run anything but MS-Winders, since only MS-Winders would come with the proper drivers to scan and process the information tatooed on your forehead.
    • The government could be getting behind none of the above as well. Frankly, when it comes to tracking citizens, the government ought to just say no.

      It's bad enough that private companies are trying to do this. There's no reason the government needs to help the process along.
    • You know, you're right.

      All we have to do is make sure Microsoft isn't involved in it, and it's bound to be free and wonderful.

      • Yes, I was clearly trying to imply that mandatory forehead tatoos are a good thing as long as MS isn't involved. Thank you for providing such an "insightful" clarification for those who may have overlooked that point.
    • The thing about 'OPEN' standards is that they don't prevent anyone from selling consumer's digital identities down the river for a quick buck. Instead of just Microsoft being in control of our online identities, we have a hundred smaller but equally evil companies in charge. Wow! That's a lot better!

      The thing that really bugs me is that its being sold to us as an open standard, so of course we support open standards. It's ridiculous, especially since this technology has NO BENEFIT to the consumer whatsoever. The vast majority of internet users simply don't log out of their websites. How many people have you seen with MSN messenger set to remember the password, giving access to the contents of their email? Not the most secure choice, obviously, but when you're trading cookie recipes, its hardly much of an issue at all.
  • If there is to be an open standard regarding how identity related information is to be aquired and used, you can be sure that the government will want a hand in it .
  • complainers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:47PM (#5464941)
    When Microsoft introduced Passport, everyone complained. When Government announced support for a system that is a credible alternative to Passport, everyone complains again.


    Would you rather government mandated Microsoft Passport?

    A system that allows you to login only once is desired in the market place. A standard is desired. This market demand will be fulfilled whether you like it or not. Which entity do you trust the most to implement this standard? Or are you naive enough to think that we won't have a federated identity on the net in the near future?
    • I'd rather just have multiple passwords for different things. Inconvenient? Perhaps, but at least I don't have one single point of failure. Really, as far as I can see, both of these services are just offering me a single point of failure. Was the market really crying out for that? Maybe I should design a bridge with one support column and patent it.

    • Re:complainers (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hope Thelps ( 322083 )
      I agree, it's like when there's a plague everyone complains but then when there's a famine, a credible alternative to plague, everyone complains about that too!

      Why can't people just criticise Microsoft when they come out with a plan but cheer on others when they offer a near identical plan? It's like people these days value consistency more than hypocrisy.
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:53PM (#5464966) Journal
    essential security for temporary Liberty deserve neither.
  • From the FAQs (Score:4, Informative)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:55PM (#5464975) Journal
    Q: What is the Liberty Alliance Project?

    A: The vision of the Liberty Alliance Project is to enable a networked world in which individuals and businesses can more easily conduct transactions while protecting the privacy and security of vital identity information. To accomplish its vision, the Liberty Alliance will establish an open standard for federated network identity through open technical specifications that will:

    Support a broad range of identity-based products and services

    Enable commercial and non-commercial organizations to realize new revenue and cost saving opportunities that economically leverage their relationships with customers, business partners, and employees

    Provide consumers with choice of identity provider(s), the ability to link accounts through account federation, and the convenience of single sign-on, when using any network of connected services and devices

    Increase ease-of-use for consumers to help stimulate e-commerce

    Yeah, yeah. The gub'ment gonna undermine all those goals and blah blah conspiracy blah blah.

    This is going to happen, and it's best it emerge as an open standard. Sane citizens of the 21st century want a secure and verifiable identity for e-commerce (which extends past the net, swiping your card for a bag of Doritos at the 7-11 really crosses into e-commerce)

  • I'll bet the University of Texas [] is eager to get in on this project too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:00PM (#5464986)
    The government has lately become very VERY interested in making itself more accessible to the citizenry (G2C) and to business (G2B) via web services. Lots of federal/state/local government agencies provide certain services to end users, but these services do not work together and you have to deal with each one of them, and their idiosyncracies, separately. In the government this is known as "stovepiping" (each agency maintains its own separate stove pipe). And that's a very bad thing for being an efficient, useful organization to its customers (the citizens).

    An example. Let's say you want to register yourself as a sole proprietor sales company. There's a myriad of organizations you will ultimately have to deal with, from OSHA to federal and state income and sales tax agencies to warranting that you're a drug-free employer or a nondiscriminatory one or whatever the latest law is. You'd like a one-stop shopping location, perhaps, which acts a front-end to all these agencies at all levels and pulls it all together for you. Now that'd be nice, wouldn't it? Or how about one-stop location for handling all the stuff that deals with disasters? Or moving to Michigan? Or going to grad school, complete with Pell Grants and checks for available assistantships?

    This is what the government wants to do. They know that they are fractured into little beaucracies beyond usefulness to the average citizen. So there is a major MAJOR initiative, fronted by the Bush White House, to make the government work together so it can be more responsive and helpful to you. National Science Foundation, GSA, a bunch of groups are working on this. They want to move the government into the twentieth century at least, much less the twenty-first!

    Trouble is, how does the government know it's you who's applying for the Pell grant, as opposed to Joe Fraud who's stolen your identity? They need some kind of potent self-identification. But right now the government is scared spitless about using even cookies on its websites for fear that privacy spooks will start rumors that they're tracking your every move and a congressman will immediately put them out of work.

    So the government is also trying to find ways to make it possible for you to manage, distribute in a protected fashion, verify, and guarantee your identity, or even act anonymously in a way you know they can't reasonably crack. Otherwise citizens will never ever use these services. They know this.

    Commercial crap like MSN Passport just aint' gonna cut it. Passport has a dismal privacy record. Hence the interest in Liberty Alliance etc.

    Yes, the Total Information Awareness project is scary (though anyone who's involved in the project can tell you it basically has no teeth at all -- it's a paper tiger). And various spook agencies are impressive at digging into your private live: well, at least the one in Maryland is anyway. But what's going on in this iniative is, in fact, totally benign. The government wants to really give you your bang for the tax buck, and are trying to figure out how they can do so without scarying you spitless on the privacy side.

    There are in fact people in the government who are there because they want to help make the world better, you know! Not many. But they're there.

    -- a researcher in the DC area...

    • This is exactly why the government is interested in using this standard - all of the people that want government to support open source, this is how to make that happen, by making good open standard that can have a number of good open source implementations.

      From what I've read so far here, a number people who would normally be all excited about the government supporting open standards and open source turn ultra-luddite when the words "government" and "identity" come together!
    • This is what the government wants to do. They know that they are fractured into little beaucracies beyond usefulness to the average citizen. So there is a major MAJOR initiative, fronted by the Bush White House, to make the government work together so it can be more responsive and helpful to you. National Science Foundation, GSA, a bunch of groups are working on this. They want to move the government into the twentieth century at least, much less the twenty-first!
      Problem is, as a free citizen I don't necessarily want the government to become more integrated and efficient. Any given government function, sure: Let's have the Dept. of Motor Vehicles set up a good, useful web site. And having just moved from a state with a good DMV web site to one with a Neandrathal DMV - the sooner the better.

      But integrate all government databases at all levels into one super authentication and data store? No thanks. I would far rather live with some inefficiency and extra expense than ever see that happen.

      Another consideration is that it might not even work. Frank Herbert had a good story about a society that made itself as efficient as possible, until things were moving so fast that they started to disintegrate. They had to create a "Department of Sabatoge" to slow themselves down. I could easily see that happening with these super databases.


  • Here's the rub... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:13PM (#5465033)
    They're looking for a "federated" network identity, where "federated" means a level of intrinsic decentralization. To me, that sounds like there is a single "federal" (not to be confused with "federal government") information registry that keeps a bare minimum of information, and websites maintain their own private databases that collect their own information beyond the federated minimum. The central database essentially just makes sure that the private databases don't have redundant entries.

    But how "federated" are they thinking here? Federated as in 1803 USA, or federated as in 2003 USA? How centrallized will this whole thing be, and who has a say in who controls how much? Will the central database really keep only a bare minimum of information, allowing most of the data maintenance to be performed by the interested parties, or will it be federated in name only, with the central database controlling everything, giving third parties the ability to collect extraneous BS "if they want to?"

    (Ironicly enough, involving the DoD may help keep things relatively decentrallized. They're not all that keen on single points of failure.)
  • by TFloore ( 27278 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:36PM (#5465143)
    The DoD is very interested in having easy identification for the 1.3 million military personnel in the United States. This means pay information, service records, ratings, training, specializations. Medical records. Retirement information.If it's tracked, they want to have it all referenced to a single identity, cross-referenced on different systems.

    They were working for a while on smartcards for all military personnel, and that's actually gone pretty far along.

    But they've probably learned that there's too much to stick on a smartcard, and you can't get good enough security to put confidential information on the smartcard that you give to 1.3 million people. Too many will lose them, and then you have problems.

    So they want to have the records, and have them easily tied to individuals. And have them available in the different commands, on different servers scattered thoroughout the DoD command structure.

    They are very interested in something like the Liberty Alliance, and making sure that they can use it for their purposes. Keeping this diverse array of information for 1.3 million people is just what this project is made for.

    Seems good that the DoD became aware of it, and decided to participate. And I'm reassured that they didn't decide to just go with the Microsoft solution without considering the options. (Maybe they learned from the problems the Navy has been having with NMCI.)
  • by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:52PM (#5465198) Homepage
    In many provences, all citizens look somewhat alike (black hair, light build, similar facial feature). This has always been a problem to ID criminal elements and dealing with False Identity.

    There is a huge market for this overseas, representing some 1 billion peoples.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Fuck you racist motherfucker are you tyring to say all asians look alike?

      • Check your language, partner! No of course we do not "all look alike". People who say that are misguided or prejudice. Don't talk about people you don't understand, I won't listen to it. Any person who travelled in parts of asia knows what I am saying. I can not explain it to you if you don't take the time to read and jump to conclusions about what I said.
  • Liberty = Big Brother knows all
    Freedom = Imprisonment
    Life = Death
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hello, I work for the Liberty Alliance Project. We don't actually RUN this place, but we have an understanding with those that do...
  • by Broadcatch ( 100226 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @12:45AM (#5465441) Homepage
    some good reading here []
  • by donheff ( 110809 ) <> on Saturday March 08, 2003 @08:30AM (#5466511)
    ...ask what you can do for your government, to paraphrase a well known Fed. The US Government is not a monolithic block of Poindexters committed to stealing our personal liberties. Only a few want that and they are often just implimenting misguided legislation from the boneheads you and I elect. There are many more policy makers and technologists within Government who believe in the openess and freedom designed into the Internet. But if we don't find simple, effective ways to authenticate and secure our communications when they need to be secure, the open nature of the Internet is in jeopardy. That is because there are those in the Government (and a heck of a lot more in some of your corporations) who will point to the insecurity of their particular communications as an indictment of the Net in general. And from that point of view comes the increasing call for building structural controls into the fiber of the network - including the monitoring and oversight many of us dread.
    The contingents from GSA and DoD participating in the Liberty ALliance are among the good guys. They believe in an open Internet and in open standards. They released their Certificate Arbitrator Module (CAM) [] under an open source license. They want to see the Internet work for everyone so it isn't hijacked for a few.
  • This article is the biggest mess of extended metaphor I've read in a while.

    "But the quickest paths in outer space are all toll roads (it costs a lot of rocket fuel to use them), while you can ride the Interplanetary Superhighway almost for free. Gravity does the driving, so the system is really more like an elaborate set of Hot Wheels tracks. All you have to do is let go of the car at the right place."

    Enough already! Hot wheels tracks, Interplanetary Superhighway, toll roads - unless this article was written for it's ridiculous, and even then kids would have to do the same thing I did, wade through the crap for the content.

    Sorry, got a little frustrated.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison