March 5, 2003 7:32 AM PST

Sun's Liberty bid gets fed support

The U.S. General Services Administration and the Department of Defense on Wednesday announced that they will join the Liberty Alliance Project, which aims to standardize Web authentication.

The two federal agencies said they will join Liberty to consider ways of centralizing their troves of electronic information with a common authentication system. The GSA said it will explore of ways to implement authentication technology across the federal government's Web sites as part of the Bush administration's 24-step eGovernment initiative. The administration hopes for a common authorization and voucher system by June.

The Defense Department said it is interested in creating a common authentication system for its automated power, personnel, training and financial databases.

Liberty was launched in 2001 by Sun Microsystems as a way to thwart Microsoft's own authentication system, called Passport. Like Passport, Liberty technology is meant to manage computer users' multiple online identities and information using a single sign-on technology. Its members include Visa International, United Airlines, AOL Time Warner, Fidelity Investments and Vodafone.

Its technology is based on the Security Assertion Markup Language, which enables single sign-on functions and user registration.

An initial version of Liberty was released last July by Sun and its allies. The first version included technology to handle username and password registration; the next version is set to allow information such as credit card numbers to be exchanged as well.

Sun in January began releasing software products that use Liberty.


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