It Takes a Village to Raise an Ecosystem

On August 21, 2013, SecureKey, an OIX Executive board member, announced it had been awarded a contract by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to provide the cloud-based authentication infrastructure for the new Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCCX).  I congratulated Andre Boysen, SecureKey’s Chief Marketing Officer, on winning a contract that could send ripples across the identity ecosystem.

The FCCX initiative is a component of President Obama’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) and its Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM) program.  The award is a milestone in implementing NSTIC’s vision to use interoperable identity solutions to allow individuals and suppliers to securely access online services. FCCX would act as a hub for multiple agencies authenticating credentials from multiple providers, across the range of Levels of Assurance defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

SecureKey’s Exchange service is suited to interoperability between federal agencies allowing use of familiar credentials, such as banking logins to access online services. The FCCX will be designed to transmit credential information securely without knowing users’ actual identities. To support the privacy requirements of anonymity, unlinkability and unobservability, the FCCX service will limit the ability of third-party credential providers and the federal agencies relying on their credentials to track individuals’ transactions among agencies.

Cloud-based authentication and credential brokerage services are at the heart of the FCCX initiative and are part of our mission at OIX. I sent a note to Andre to brainstorm the possibilities for collaboration. The open standards in the OpenID Foundation, including OpenID Connect, Account Chooser as well as OIXnet can help speed on boarding IDPs and broader adoption of FCCX.

At the upcoming “O5” Internet Identity Summit in London we have a session devoted to the practical issues of business, legal and financial interoperability among similar hub initiatives in Canada, the UK and elsewhere.  We’ll draw on the innovation and expertise of our global “village’ in creating a secure and innovative identity ecosystem so that FCCX, like its analogs in Canada and the UK,  can interoperate and help support and secure the growing range of online transactions.