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6/14/2005
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Liberty Alliance Tackles Online Identity Theft

The 150-member group aims to tackle identity theft from a collaborative, multi-vendor, multi-organizational perspective.

Liberty Alliance -- a 150-member association organized to develop an open standard for federated network identity that supports all network devices -- is taking on a new challenge: identity theft.

The alliance announced this week the formation of the Identity Theft Protection Group, which aims to tackle identity theft from a collaborative, multi-vendor, multi-organizational perspective.

The consortium will strive to better combat the growing threat of digital identity theft and fraud. The group will function as an offshoot of the consortium that includes Web-based services and identity standards.

Regarding the need for a more collective identity theft attack, Michael Barrett, vice president, Security and Architecture for American Express said "We've only addressed it tangentially before" in efforts such as white papers. He said there was a growing consensus that more needed to be done collectively to address identity theft. "The group is quite complimentary [to the alliance as a whole] in that the work of the alliance splits into several components."

Barrett will officiate over the group, which he said now discusses their work through two or three conference calls a week, frequent e-mails, and periodic in-person meetings such as the one slated for Chicago in July.

Since its inception, when Liberty Alliance members saw a need for better authentication -- and crossed over from Microsoft's Passport, an online storage house for Internet users' sensitive data -- they've sought to "add to the discussion" of better tackling identity theft, Barrett said.

"Should we look at the entire problem space or just confine ourselves to the digital aspects of a crime? We decided to look at the entire thing. You can't always distinguish whether the prior crime was committed offline or online," said Barrett.

Liberty Alliance's members include vendors, government agencies and consumer-facing organizations — such as AOL, American Express, General Motors, Sun and Nokia.

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