June 1 Meeting: What’s up with the Internet Identity Movement?

Identity as if PEOPLE mattered…

Why should you care about the Internet Identity Movement? What makes it a BIG DEAL? How identity is handled online has always been a huge issue, and is a big issue for your privacy and online experience.

Tom Brown at IIW
Tom Brown at IIW. Photo by ValeskaUX

Back by popular demand! EFF-Austin’s resuming monthly public meetings on Internet and cyber liberties topics of interest.

Our first event is June 1st, 7PM at the Flying Saucer, 815 W 47th St at the Triangle. Free RSVP here.

Tom Brown
Tom Brown

Our very special guest speaker is coder extraordinaire Tom Brown, just returned from Internet Identity Workshop #12

The IIW is an open space workshop focused on user-centric digital identity. Attendees at IIW12 included many more people traveling from overseas and representation from the U.S. government with the emerging NSTIC initiative. We will have a conversation about the good, bad and ugly of NSTIC and the relationship and progress of protocols supporting user-centric identity including OpenID, OAuth and OStatus and derivatives like OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0.

Bio: Tom Brown is an open source software developer who can be found on github.com as herestomwiththeweather. Tom has added OpenID, OAuth and OpenTransact to popular open source ruby projects and has attended most of the identity workshops since IIW7. Tom co-founded SuperBorrowNet, Inc. and maintains the oscurrency project in use by the Austin Time Exchange, the Bay Area Community exchange and emerging community exchanges in Oregon, Canada and Ireland.

NSTIC session at Internet Identity Workshop 11

Jay Unger at IIW11

Jay Unger’s IIW11 slides are a very helpful introduction to the 36 page National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace document produced by Deloitte last year. Also, during the session, Jay shared some things he had heard from the Department of Homeland Security such as “expect the ecosystem to be private sector led” and suggested that this initiative was leading towards commerce (“reading between the tea leaves”). It seems Jay was right and it seems to me that the main catalyst here, although not clearly defined as a vision, was stated in the White House blog post on NSTIC this week.

we can…cut costs for businesses and government by reducing inefficient identification procedures.

Think about how much money businesses and government could save for each customer it can convert from doing things by phone and mail versus online. “Money is what jumpstarts this” is among my notes from the IIW session.

So, it seems a good question to ask about trusted identities is “trusted by who?” If the goal is to reduce costs which is desired by business and government, who truly needs to trust them are we, the people. This seems to be a matter of changing our perception about the security of doing our business online. Of course, there will still be security vulnerabilities and privacy compromises. We just need to perceive that NSTIC is fixing those. Therefore, I agree with Kaliya Hamlin’s sentiment that We Shouldn’t Freak Out About NSTIC.

Update 1/11: Here is the video of last Friday’s Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research event with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt and ID Commons post-event conference call notes. To keep updated with these calls, check here.

IIW11 was held November 2-4, 2010. IIW12 is is May 3-5, 2011 in Mountain View, California.

Internet Identity Workshop iiw2009a

IIW2009a took place May 18-20th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Please check the top of the notes page for links to other blog coverage.

The previous workshop IIW2008b was memorable for the many sweet apps (several from Google) that made use of OAuth and the marathon session on evaluating different options for discovery facilitated by Eran Hammer-Lahav (and lots of great suggestions from John Panzer, et al.). One of the principles of the open space talks is that sessions don’t necessarily end at any particular time.

The conversation about discovery continued across multiple sessions at IIW2009a. The topic of discovery is as fundamental as the social construction of reality. From a node’s perspective on the network, it can be summarized in two steps:

  • Given a resource (identified by a URI), where can I find information about it?
  • What format is this ‘information about’ in? How do I make sense of it and use it?

Here is video of Eran Hammer-Lahav’s lunch session “Introduction to Discovery: How do we Interact with the Unknown?”

I was very impressed by the work John Bradley and others are doing with interoperability testing for user-centric identity (OpenID, etc.). Allen Tom discussed the OpenID User Interface Extension and showed off some of the work with puffypoodles.com. Here’s his recap at the Yahoo Developer Blog. Of course, Facebook announced it is now the biggest OpenID relying party at the workshop.

Guillaume Lebleu facilitated Identity and the Future of Money. Guillaume reviewed several complementary currencies that have sprung up on the web in the last year.

It’s amazing to overhear everyday conversations today. Talk of messages on a wall, bizarre notions of friendship and fan pages are common. The social web experience shared by millions of people is sadly monolithic. Are these new contexts getting in the way of a more interesting voyage of discovery? If we want a healthier (perhaps less addictive) experience, do our spaces on the web allow us to realize that intention?

The next Internet Identity workshop will be November 3-5.