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Identity to Become the Key Technology Focus

December 5th, 2006

Following their European e-Identity Conference, eema, an independent association for IT professionals, businesses and governments, has predicted that by 2020 digital identities will have a significant impact on the daily lives of the world´s population and that this is already the case in the more technologically-advanced, Internet-ready societies.

At the two-day conference in Barcelona, where delegates from 20 countries across Europe, North America and the Far East met to debate the key issues surrounding the realities of digital identity today, it was asserted that businesses and governments are waking up to the fact that their future success will depend on the effective and ethical management of a complex network of digital identity relationships with their employees, partners and customers.

High profile key speakers, from suppliers to users, including representatives from conference gold sponsors Cybertrust and Thales e-Security, as well as ING, Siemens, Verisign, Symantec, Microsoft and Corestreet, took to the floor to share experiences and opinions on enterprise identity management, national identity card programmes, and the issues surrounding personal digital identities, including identity theft and phishing.

eema chairman David Goodman declared on day one that the role of identity-related trust – at both a personal and corporate level – was dramatically changing Internet-based transactions. “As we converge towards the ultimate goal of securely managing the use of digital identities across the Internet in line with the wishes and rights of individuals, but without unduly compromising the objectives of businesses and governments, there will inevitably be conflicts and differences, synergies and agreements. An association such as eema has a vital role in providing a neutral forum for businesses, governments, regulators and individuals to come together to discuss these issues, share experiences, establish best practices and reach common agreements, ” says Goodman.

In the first keynote address, Stijn Bijnens, SVP of Identity Management at Cybertrust, stated that the main drivers of identity are security, integration of physical and logical access control, flexibility, productivity, compliance and customer satisfaction. On the drivers behind national identity programmes, Bijnens also recognised the need for more efficient e-government, both regionally and across-borders, as well as new applications such as e-tickets on public transport and physical access to public buildings. However, questions remain about interoperability and the uptake of multiple applications in order to broadly justify such programmes and present real-life benefits to users.

During the morning´s panel debate, Chief Security Officer at Corestreet, Bob Dulude, echoed Bijnens´ sentiments, claiming that e-ID cards must be technically interoperable to support multiple applications, with the caveat that security and privacy could be more easily compromised when there is a vast amount of data on a single smartcard.

Security Program Manager at Microsoft, Ronny Bjones, mirrored Goodman´s initial statements on the expanding role of identity-based services, explaining that federated identity would become intrinsic to other customer-related applications. He also explained how Microsoft´s Cardspace (formerly “Infocard”), scheduled for the Windows Vista release, will transform the way individuals do business on the web by providing a much greater degree of security and by passing management control into the hands of the user.

Goodman added, “There is a great air of excitement around the area of digital identity from a personal point of view, where it is going and how it will all fit together. There are real opportunities for eema to facilitate the transformations that will take place in the future and to drive them forward.”

“The conference doubled as eema´s 19th Annual Conference and was the best attended in recent years,” adds Head of Special Projects at eema, Roger Dean. “It united senior IT, marketing and management personnel from some of the biggest players in the industry to share their valued opinions. Everyone went away from Barcelona knowing that identity will have an immense impact on the way business is conducted from now on.”

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