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Technology & Innovation

Getting Just The Right Amount Of User ID

A scientist has created a new form of electronic ID that gives sites only the minimum amount of information needed for authentication. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Jan Camenisch, a lead scientist at IBM’s research center in Switzerland, has created identification technology that will divulge only the bare minimum of data needed for a site to authenticate a user. Identity Mixer works through the use of tokens that verify specific pieces of data, such as age or name, against the data contained in a third-party database. IBM is currently testing the technology in various applications; Camenisch says that one college in Greece has been using it successfully for course evaluations, faculty rankings, and student polls.

What’s the Big Idea?

Online privacy concerns almost everyone, but the European Union is especially focused on it, which is one reason why Camenisch believes they contributed to funding the research. The government recently launched a program, Future ID, which restricts the amount of personal data divulged via official ID cards. IBM hopes to make Identity Mixer technology the underlying structure behind the EU’s program, and in doing so, continue to grow its new Security Services unit, which will compete with other online privacy companies, such as Symantec.

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