Liberty Alliance picks up more members

Another 30 companies have thrown their support behind Liberty Alliance Project, an effort to create a standard technology that allows users to travel password-protected Web sites using a single user name and password.

The effort is backed by Sun Microsystems Inc. and a number of hardware, software and consumer services companies as diverse as United Air Lines Inc., General Motors Corp. and American Express Co. It now has more than 95 members from private industry, not-for-profit organizations and government, the group said in a statement Wednesday.

New members include Sprint Corp., security and authentication technology maker Baltimore Technologies PLC, network management software maker Oblix Inc., and Internet2, a consortium of university researchers, private industry and government agencies that are working to develop and deploy advanced network applications.

The Liberty Alliance released the first version of its specification in July based on the security standard SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language). As it is designed, users would be able to use a single online identity to traverse Web sites or gain access to corporate applications and databases that support the Liberty Alliance specification.

The specification allows Web site operators to build in functions that allow users to "opt-in" to share their user name and password with other Liberty-enabled Web sites, as well as a "global log out" for signing off all participating Web sites in a single action.

A similar technology is available from Microsoft Corp. through its Passport authentication service, with which users can travel Passport member Web sites without having to re-enter a user name and password each time. Microsoft and the Liberty Alliance have yet to synchronize their efforts, though Microsoft said in July that it would include support for SAML in future versions of its Windows operating system.

The Liberty Alliance has also scheduled an all-member meeting in Chicago on Sept. 19 to discuss the strategy and new technology being built into future versions of the specification, according to the statement. The next release of the specification is expected to allow users to store additional information, such as a credit card number for online shopping, in their Liberty Alliance profile.

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