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"Passport and Liberty Alliance Not Mutually Exclusive," Says Microsoft MasterCard International, Hewlett-Packard, and France
"Passport and Liberty Alliance Not Mutually Exclusive," Says Microsoft MasterCard International, Hewlett-Packard, and France

With the addition of new members including credit card giant MasterCard International Inc., the Liberty Alliance Project, committed to developing and deploying open standards for network identity, continues to strengthen.

Will the Alliance eventually see participation by Microsoft? The online auction company eBay, Inc., which allows users to sign in using Microsoft's Passport authentication system, has already expressed support for Liberty. The president of Liberty Alliance's management board, Eric Dean, is chief information officer for United Airlines, a corporation that's also working with Passport. Dean, along with Tony Scott, GM's chief technology officer of information systems and services, have both reported progress in ongoing discussions with Microsoft. Dean commented to JIN, "While they've not joined as yet, we've got a good, constructive dialog going and firm commitments to work together on relevant, substantive matters, so I'm optimistic that whether they join or not the right things will happen."

"Microsoft has had a number of productive discussions with the Alliance's leadership about its membership," Microsoft's Adam Sohn, product manager, .NET Platform Strategy, told JIN. "These good faith and productive discussions will continue -- no doors have been closed. It's important to remember that Passport and the Liberty Alliance are not mutually exclusive; Microsoft is interested in single sign-on based on open Internet standards (Kerberos), and Microsoft agrees and has said for some time that no one company should be in control of such a system. The Liberty Alliance is building a specification, not a product. Then companies will build implementations that work according to that specification. Passport is an implementation of an online authentication service today -- in the future, it is possible that it would interoperate with any number of other specifications, standards, and other authentication systems, including the work that comes out of the Alliance - whether Microsoft is a member or not."

In recent weeks, Liberty Alliance named seven industry-leading companies as founding members and members of the management board: MasterCard International, American Express, AOL Time Warner, France Telecom, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard Company, and an as-yet unnamed major commercial bank. The other founders of the Alliance and members of the management board are: Bell Canada, Global Crossing, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Openwave Systems, RealNetworks, RSA Security, Sony Corporation, Sun Microsystems, United Airlines, and Vodafone.

"MasterCard is committed to providing a secure environment for all payment transactions, including electronic commerce and mobile commerce. Our active participation on the board of directors for the Liberty Alliance Project will benefit our members by helping to ensure that our efforts towards guaranteed payments over remote channels are consistent with open standards for broad industry adoption," said Art Kranzley, chief e-Business officer, MasterCard International.

Commenting on joining the Liberty Alliance, Rich DeMillo, vice president and chief technology officer, Hewlett-Packard Company, said, "By joining the Liberty Alliance, HP reaffirms its longstanding commitment to supporting open industry standards and market-unifying architectures. Our goal is to increase customer access to interoperable technologies and to stimulate the broadest spectrum of innovation in our industry. Participating in this alliance levels the playing field for IT developers and opens the door for industry-wide collaboration on important matters such as building secure and trusted architectures."

"With dozens of trusted, industry-leading companies participating and over 3,000 inquiries for more information about membership, the Liberty Alliance continues to gain critical mass and represent hundreds of millions of customers," said Eric Dean. "The Alliance is rapidly moving forward to develop a commercially-viable, open, ubiquitous standard for network identity, authentication, and authorization across a multitude of business systems and consumer products touched by the Internet - from cellular phones to Web browsers and automobiles."

In addition to the founding members, other companies that have expressed their intent to participate in the Liberty Alliance include: ActivCard, American Airlines, the Apache Software Foundation, Bank of America, Cingular Wireless, Cisco Systems, CollabNet, Dun and Bradstreet, eBay, Entrust, Fidelity Investments, Gemplus, i2, Intuit, Liberate Technologies, O'Reilly and Associates, Sabre, Schlumberger, Sprint, Travelocity and VeriSign.

The Alliance has opened the coalition to sponsor-level membership, which provides full participation in Alliance activities for companies interested in playing an active role. The participating companies will hold their next Alliance meeting on January 22-24, in Orlando, Florida. More information is available at www.projectliberty.org.

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