'eID Connect' Verifies Age using CodeMeter Technology, Augments OpenID Services

By Peter Bernstein June 05, 2013

Ever wonder about how effective parental controls are in deterring age inappropriate content from being viewed by those too young to be looking?  As we parents know, policing where our kids go is a daunting task at best, especially when they are more digitally adept than we are.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if our policies and rules for viewing content that is age sensitive could be handled automatically?  In fact, wouldn’t it be great if it fit nicely into the emerging market of Identity-as-a-Service (IaaS) where for a nominal fee could achieve a greater peace of mind and have to be less personally watchful? Five words may make you feel better, “Help is on the way!”

How so?

The answer lies in the results of a research project, “eID Connect,” done as a collaboration of several interested parties in Karlsruhe, Germany.   After a development stage of 16 months, the FZI Research Center for computer science along with the companies CAS Software AG, fun communication GmbH and WIBU-SYSTEMS AG – all located in Karlsruhe – have announced a first prototype.  Rather than the traditional identification with a username and password, the authentication method is strengthened by the introduction of an additional factor: the new electronic identity card (nPA) or a hardware security token, like the CmDongle.

How all of this will work is as follows, via an OpenID server, users can create their digital identity themselves. This can then be supplemented with data from the new ID card or the CmDongle.  The infrastructural design was developed in a way that information such as name, age, address, and therefore the transgression by an individual of a certain age, can be verified. In short, they have produced tamperproof virtual identities which can be used for things like verifying the age of website users so they can be restricted from accessing inappropriate on-demand video streams or other content that inquiring under-age minds would like to view.

The architecture, extensively described at www.eid-connect.de, is based on CodeMeter technology offered and is in the SaaS modality by the provider for mobile computing applications. The prototype is available for testing purposes upon request.

Oliver Winzenried, CEO and founder of Wibu-Systems AG, explains, “With "eID Connect” we aimed at creating a solution that significantly expands the application possibilities of electronic identity cards. For the research team it was important to develop a practical solution for age verification that would feature a high level of security as well. I am convinced that ‘eID Connect’ can define a new paradigm for today’s business models: age is determined, validated and clearly linked to the virtual identity".

While the application of the technology in this instance is aimed at age verification, it obviously has broader use. In fact, it is a good example of leveraging OpenID, which allows users to be authenticated by certain co-operating sites (known as Relying Parties or RP) using a third party service, eliminating the need for webmasters to provide their own ad hoc systems and allowing users to consolidate their digital identities. As the eID Connect project shows, OpenID users can create accounts with their preferred OpenID identity providers, and then use those accounts as the basis for signing on to any website which accepts OpenID authentication. The standard has been popular and is used by Google, Yahoo!, PayPal, and a host of other large websites.

It should also be note that OpenID is stewarded by the OpenID Foundation, an international non-profit organization of individuals and companies committed to enabling, promoting and protecting OpenID technologies. The foundation serves as a public trust organization representing the open community of developers, vendors, and users.  It assists the community by managing intellectual property and brand marks as well as fostering viral growth and global participation in the proliferation of OpenID.

Are new electronic virtual identity cards in our future? We shall see how viral the eID Connect approach becomes and gets used for various applications. In the meantime, they do deserve credit for focusing in on a significant problem and have a chance at gaining popular acceptance as the answer to a lot of parents’ prayers.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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