A Surmountable Identity Crisis
The alliance should keep the dialogue going.An identity should be the most personal and inviolable thing one can ownand yet, as e-commerce practices unfold, an electronic identity that is secure and under the control of its owner is far from a reality. Microsofts early interest in the issue, in the form of its Passport identity management system, inspired industry dialogue from rival Liberty Alliance. But Microsofts head start, combined with its desktop dominance, has made some at the alliance willing to concede to Microsoft the role of pervasive provisioner of online identity, at least at the desktop. Were disappointed that Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president at Suns software group, said the alliance standard cannot compete on the desktop but will seek to become dominant on devices such as cell phones.
We think its too soon to call the contest settled, and we certainly dont believe Passports track record inspires the required level of trust. From the start, Passport has raised questions about having too much information concentrated in the hands of a single company. The Federal Trade Commission has mandated that Microsoft be audited every two years, for the next 20 years, because the company misrepresented the amount of personal information it was collecting under Passport as well as the level of security it was providing for that information.