The initiative, called "Project Higgins," is being managed by the Eclipse Foundation, which is building on a concept developed by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The technology would enable individuals to manage and control their online personal information, such as bank account, telephone and credit card numbers; or medical and employment records. People would decide the information shared with Web sites using the software.
"Our aim is to construct an open and widely accessible software framework that puts the individual at the center of the identity management universe," John Clippinger, senior fellow for The Berkman Center, said in a statement. "With this framework in place, it will be easier for society to begin the migration to more secure online environments, where trusted networks can not only be easily formed, but effectively enforced."
IBM, Novell and Parity Communications, an open source software maker, said Monday in a joint statement that they are contributing software code to Higgins. IBM also plans to incorporate Higgins technology within its Tivoli identity management software; and to offer the security framework through its consulting division.
Under Project Higgins, companies could build support into their applications, Web sites and services, irrespective of the underlying technology platform or identity management system.
Project Higgins is an open source alternative to a similar technology under development by Microsoft Corp. called InfoCard.