What is the Information Card Foundation (ICF)?
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Every so often, a strange partnership emerges on the Internet that truly brings back my faith in large corporations. Competitors put aside any differences and concentrate on helping the industry as a whole by fixing glaring errors, issues and exploits without any thoughts as to profits or costs. Case in point: the development of the non-profit Information Card Foundation.
The Information Card Foundation was announced as a joint venture backed by e-commerce, credit and hardware heavyweights Google, PayPal, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle and Equifax, as well as nine other industry leaders in the technology community. The most notable others include: A.T.E. Software, BackgroundChecks.com, the Liberty Alliance, Ping Identity and WSO2.
Their goal seems like it's pretty simple: to establish an objective body, promoting increased use of simple, user-controlled, electronic IDs on the Internet, while maximizing information security at all times.
The main problem with user information right now is the continued increasing volume of secured sites, logins, computers and networks worldwide, resulting in an enormous amount of user names and passwords. Think about it. How often do you make an online purchase and put in your credit card information? How many times a week do you fill out online forms or log into a secure or worse yet, not so secure website?
As personal identification protection becomes seemingly more difficult every day thanks to keystroke logging tools, viruses and phishing schemes, it's obvious that the time for a better, or more comprehensive, system is long past due.
The ICF is offering a three-pronged plan to help. The first part of the plan is "electronic" identification cards (I-cards) to be used much like social security cards or drivers' licenses. The second is simply that these individual cards be stored in a digital organizer, and be presented upon requesting access. Finally, these IDs will be proven valid through use of three distinct groups: an initiating user, the service provider and a reliable, neutral party.
Using I-cards should be easy, according to the ICF, very much like using cards in your real wallet to purchase, show membership, or identify yourself. Much like using a membership card at a country club or discount card at a local retailer, these I-cards would be all you need to complete your transaction, eliminating the need to fill in forms or to even type information.
The primary use of I-cards would be to log in to a website via a single click, to create (or restrict) relationships with anyone with whom you wish to do business and to manage your personal data in a single location. Ideally, your identity could be quickly proven without revealing trusted identity provider information.
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