Musings on Digital Identity

Month: June 2008

First Verified Age Information Cards

IDology Verified Over 18 cardLast week IDology demonstrated a first that many of us see great possibilities for: an Information Card making a verified age claim. I’m excited at this first step towards the goal of enabling people to routinely use interoperable verified claims about themselves via Information Cards.

Obtaining my age-verified card online was easy. I submitted my name, address, and birth date (via a self-issued card) to IDology’s verification process. Next they asked me a few additional questions to confirm that I was likely to be the person who I claimed to be. With correct answers in hand, they proceeded to issue me an Information Card enabling me to make IDology-verified claims on my own behalf.

I used the card at two (demo) relying parties: a social networking site that restricts membership to people 18 and over and an online wine store. You can also imagine verified identity information being valuable at job and career sites, at dating sites, when applying for insurance or credit, for enrolling in promotions, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Please join me in congratulating IDology on this significant achievement. I believe it will be the first of many good things to come in the verified identity space!

The remainder of this post shows the process of obtaining and using my verified identity Information Card. In some cases I intentionally went through extra steps, such as previewing the cards before sending them, to make it completely clear what is occurring. The address of the demo site is obscured at IDology’s request because this is not yet a production service. Some of the (real) data about me used to obtain the card is obscured for privacy reasons.

Signing Up for a Verified Age Card

SocialNet start page

The experience starts by visiting the “SocialNet” site, which invites me to join. I click “Join SocialNet Today”.

SocialNet join page

SocialNet lets me join either by typing my information into a web form or by providing it via an Information Card. I click the Information Card icon.

SocialNet join card selection

This brings up CardSpace, where I choose a self-issued card with my home address.

SocialNet join card preview

I preview the card, seeing that the site will be sent my name, address, and birth date. I click “Send”.

SocialNet verification questions

I’m asked two questions that I should know the answers to to help confirm that I am who I say I am. I answer them correctly.

SocialNet joined

Having passed the identity verification process, I’m given the opportunity to download an Information Card for my newly verified identity. I click on “Download Managed InfoCard”.

Install IDology card

I click the “Install and Exit” button to install my verified identity Information Card.

Using the Card at SocialNet

SocialNet login page

Now that I have a verified age card, I use it to sign in at SocialNet by clicking on the Information Card icon.

SocialNet login card selection

I choose my IDology verified Information Card and click “Preview” to review the claims I’m being asked for.

SocialNet login card preview

SocialNet is only asking for my name and the PPID for my card. I send them.

SocialNet logged in

I’m logged into SocialNet using my verified Information Card.

Using the Card at

OnlineWineMerchant login page

Now I go to another site that accepts my verified age Information Card: “”. I click the Information Card icon to sign in.

OnlineWineMerchant login card selection

My IDology verified Information Card is accepted by the site. I choose it and click “Preview”.

OnlineWineMerchant login card preview is also only asking for my name and a PPID. (In a real deployment, I suspect it would be asking for an age claim of some kind too.) I send the card.

OnlineWineMerchant logged in

I’m logged into using my verified age card, letting me take advantage of the verification I did for SocialNet on this site too. This is the synergy that will make Information Cards with verified identity claims a valuable addition to the identity landscape.

A Personal Perspective on the Information Card Foundation Launch

Information Card Foundation banner

In May 2005, when I wrote the whitepaper “Microsoft’s Vision for an Identity Metasystem“, these sentences were aspirational:

Microsoft’s implementation will be fully interoperable via WS-* protocols with other identity selector implementations, with other relying party implementations, and with other identity provider implementations.

Non-Microsoft applications will have the same ability to use "InfoCard" to manage their identities as Microsoft applications will. Non-Windows operating systems will be able to be full participants of the identity metasystem we are building in cooperation with the industry. Others can build an entire end-to-end implementation of the metasystem without any Microsoft software, payments to Microsoft, or usage of any Microsoft online identity service.

Now they are present-day reality.

This didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy. Indeed, despite it being hard, the identity industry saw it as vitally important, and made it happen through concerted, cooperative effort. Key steps along the way included the Laws of Identity, the Berkman Center Identity Workshops in 2005 and 2006, the Internet Identity Workshops, the establishment of OSIS, the formation of the Higgins, Bandit, OpenSSO, xmldap, and Pamela projects, publication of the Identity Selector Interoperability Profile, the Open Specification Promise, the OSIS user-centric identity interops (I1 rehearsal, I1, I2, I3, and the current I4), the OpenID anti-phishing collaboration, the Information Card icon, and of course numerous software releases by individuals and companies for all major development platforms, including releases by Sun, CA, and IBM.

Of course, despite all the groundwork that’s been laid and the cooperation that’s been established, the fun is really just beginning. What most excites me about the group of companies that have come together around Information Cards is that many of them are potential deployers of Information Cards, rather than just being producers of the underlying software.

The Internet is still missing a much-needed ubiquitous identity layer. The good news is that the broad industry collaboration that has emerged around Information Cards and the visual Information Card metaphor is a key enabler for building it, together in partnership with other key technologies and organizations.

The members of the Information Card Foundation (and many others also working with us) share this vision from the conclusion of the whitepaper:

We believe that many of the dangers, complications, annoyances, and uncertainties of today’s online experiences can be a thing of the past. Widespread deployment of the identity metasystem has the potential to solve many of these problems, benefiting everyone and accelerating the long-term growth of connectivity by making the online world safer, more trustworthy, and easier to use.

In that spirit, please join me in welcoming all of these companies and individuals to the Information Card Foundation: founding corporate board members Equifax, Google, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and PayPal; founding individual board members Kim Cameron, Pamela Dingle, Patrick Harding, Andrew Hodgkinson, Ben Laurie, Axel Nennker, Drummond Reed, Mary Ruddy, and Paul Trevithick; launch members Arcot Systems, Aristotle, A.T.E. Software,, CORISECIO, FuGen Solutions, Fun Communications, Gemalto, IDology, IPcommerce, ooTao, Parity Communications, Ping Identity, Privo, Wave Systems, and WSO2; associate members Fraunhofer Institute and Liberty Alliance; individual members Daniel Bartholomew and Sid Sidner.

Identity Choice at HealthVault

OpenID logoSean Nolan, chief architect of Microsoft’s HealthVault service, posted an article about giving their users choice for the identities they use to access their information. He announced that in addition to accepting LiveIDs, HealthVault is about to start accepting OpenIDs from two OpenID Providers and is also building native Information Card support. As Sean wrote:

As we’ve always said, HealthVault is about consumer control — empowering individuals with tools that let them choose how to share and safeguard their personal health information. OpenID support is a natural fit for this approach, because it allows users to choose the “locksmith” that they are most comfortable with.

You can certainly expect to see more such options in the future. For example, we are in the process of building in native support for Information Cards, which provide some unique advantages, in particular around foiling phishing attempts.

Talking about OpenID, Sean also wrote:

As we learn more, and as OpenID continues to mature, we fully expect to broaden the set of providers that work with HealthVault. We believe that a critical part of that expansion is the formalization and adoption of PAPE, which gives relying parties a richer set of tools to determine if they are comfortable with the policies of an identity provider.

Please join me in congratulating the HealthVault team on being the first Microsoft service to employ OpenID and for their commitment to providing their users convenient, secure access to their healthcare data.

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