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General FAQ

The Liberty Alliance is a global identity consortium formed in 2001 by approximately 30 organizations with the goal of developing open technical, business and privacy standards for federated identity management. Liberty Alliance achieved this goal in 2002 with the release of Liberty Federation and in 2003 released Liberty Web Services, an open framework for deploying and managing a variety of identity-enabled Web Services. Having grown to nearly 150 members from around the world, the Liberty Alliance is currently working toward developing ID-SAFE, the industry’s first open framework for deploying and managing interoperable strong authentication. The Liberty Alliance is the only global identity organization approaching identity issues from a holistic perspective, addressing the technology, business and privacy aspects of identity management in order to build a more trusted global Internet for consumers and organizations worldwide. Liberty Alliance background information ( Liberty Backgrounder ), including a listing of timelines and industry milestones is available for download.

The vision of the Liberty Alliance to build a more trusted global Internet by enabling a networked world based on open standards where consumers, citizens, businesses and governments can more easily conduct online transactions while protecting the privacy and security of identity information. This world, where devices and identities of all kinds are linked by open federation and protected by universal strong authentication, is being built by the Liberty Alliance today.

In order for identity management systems to advance on the widest possible scale, they must be built on a foundation of trust. Consumers need to know they can trust that personal identity information shared online is both private and secure. Companies need trusted relationships with one another in order to more easily and securely conduct transactions with partners and customers worldwide. Governments and healthcare organizations need secure and privacy respecting identity solutions to provide a trusted environment for accessing and sharing a variety of online services. Liberty Alliance members work collectively to deliver the open technologies, guidelines and best practices to help ensure that trust is the core of every Internet transaction.

Building a more trusted global Internet can’t be accomplished by a handful of vendors working on proprietary identity solutions. And it can’t be built by addressing only the technical aspects of the multi-faceted digital identity landscape. Building a more trusted Internet requires a global and collaborative effort. This means addressing identity issues from multiple perspectives and with input from developers, deployers and users of identity solutions as well as from global and regional regulatory and privacy experts. The Liberty Alliance is based on this collaborative model. Members work together to develop real-world identity solutions that solve real-world identity problems.

The Liberty Alliance is unique in that its global membership is made up of a cross-section of service providers, vendors and other organizations representing leaders in telecommunications, information technology, finance, manufacturing, and government. Liberty’s output is driven by real-world business cases that are brought into the Alliance by members such as AOL, Deustche Telekom, Fidelity Investments, and NTT, who then work with technology vendors inside of Liberty such as CA, Sun, Intel, Orange France Telecom, and Oracle, to ensure rapid development of pertinent specifications for identity services and solutions.

The Liberty Alliance structure is based on expert and special interest groups that members can join. Expert Groups include the Business and Marketing Expert Group (BMEG), formed to define market requirements, develop business guidelines and oversee marketing communications; the Technology Expert Group (TEG), where the standards development takes place; the Identity Assurance Expert Group (IAEG), which works on general identity assurance framework and certification needs; and the Public Policy Expert Group (PPEG), formed to provide best practices and guidelines for managing privacy in all Liberty deployments.

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are formed to address specific identity issues and are open to public participation.

Liberty Alliance members have the opportunity to shape and impact the next phase of identity and to ensure the development of a trusted Internet and digital identity ecosystem. By contributing to its development, Liberty Alliance members can influence or gain early access to specifications being advanced as standards, and can roll that knowledge into their products and services. Other membership benefits include:

  • Collaboration with peers to agree on standard mechanisms for identity management, transactions, web services and communication – thereby creating greater cost efficiencies in product and application development
  • Networking with other thought leaders in identity management, web services and strong authentication
  • Reduced fees to take part in Liberty Interoperable™ testing program for products supporting Liberty specifications
  • Substantial marketing opportunities, including opportunity to act as Liberty Spokesperson to international business & trade media as well as exposure in leading tradeshows
  • Ability to attend Liberty’s member meetings
  • Better understanding of, and an opportunity to contribute to, global public policy issues impacting all aspects of network identity

There are two levels of membership in the Alliance: Management Board and Sponsor (which includes Individual Members).

Management Board – The Liberty Alliance Management Board is responsible for the overall governance, budgeting and direction of the Alliance and has the final voting authority for specifications. The Liberty Alliance Management Board currently includes representatives from AOL, BT, CA, Fidelity Investments, France Telecom, Intel, ISOC, Novell, NTT, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. Officer bios.

SPONSOR and INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP – Sponsor and individual members participate in all of the Alliance's expert and special interest groups and attend the Liberty Alliance quarterly face-to-face meetings held in varying locations around the world. Sponsor members have significant influence over Liberty activities as they can determine and vote upon Liberty’s technical requirements and related output, can act as Chair of Liberty Expert Groups, and can also be nominated to fill open seats on the Management Board. Sponsor members have full access to draft specifications and documentation.

The Liberty Alliance has proven that in order for identity standards to gain wide-scale industry acceptance they must be developed from day one with input from everyone who has a stake in their success. This collaborative approach is critical to meeting the real world requirements of deployers and users worldwide.
All Liberty Alliance members are invited to participate in the standards development process and no specification is developed before use cases and business requirements are in place. This collaborative development model ensures that developers and organizations working in all market segments can trust Liberty Federation and Liberty Web Services for building and deploying open identity solutions faster and more successfully.

Liberty Federation, which consists of ID-FF 1.1, 1.2 and SAML 2.0 specifications, allows consumers and users of Internet-based services and e-commerce applications to authenticate and sign-on to a network or domain once from any device and then visit or take part in services from multiple Web sites. This federated approach does not require the user to re-authenticate and can support privacy controls established by the user. More information on Liberty Federation case studies highlighting global deployments, business benefits and ROI.

A Circle of Trust refers to the many business, legal and privacy considerations that govern federated identity management between organizations. The Liberty Alliance recently released the industry’s first business and policy guidelines to help policy decision makers facilitate the development and deployment of Circles of Trust. Developed by Liberty members from Sun Microsystems, BIPAC, Oracle and the US Government Services Administration, these guidelines are playing a key role in helping policy managers around the world deploy Liberty Federation and Liberty Web Services faster and more successfully. Please see Deployment Guidelines for Policy Decision Makers for more information on deploying federated Identity management.

Liberty Web Services, which consists of ID-WSF 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0, is an open framework for deploying and managing a variety of identity-based Web services. Developed based on well-defined business requirements and with controls for consumer and user privacy at the forefront, Liberty Web Services applications include Geo-location, Contact Book, Calendar, Mobile Messaging and Liberty People Service, the industry’s first open Web services framework for managing social applications such as bookmarks, blogs, calendars, photo sharing and instant messaging in a secure and privacy respecting federated social network. The Liberty Alliance regularly releases new Liberty Web Services specifications and applications.

SAML 2.0 is the culmination of work stemming from OASIS, the Liberty Alliance and the Shibboleth Project. These standards bodies combined their work in enhancing SAML 1.0 to create SAML 2.0. In March of 2005, SAML 2.0 was ratified as an official OASIS industry standard and is now backed by vendors and organizations around the world as the “de-facto” industry standard for deploying and managing open identity-based applications. SAML 2.0 represents a significant step toward the convergence of identity standards and moving forward, all enhancements to Liberty Federation will be based on SAML 2.0.

The Liberty Alliance added support for SAML 2.0 to Liberty Web Services in 2005 and at that time incorporated SAML 2.0 testing into its Liberty Interoperable™ conformance program.

Yes! In fact we have several case studies on the site as well as an entire section devoted to adoption. Liberty Federation and Liberty Web Services are the world’s most widely deployed standards for managing non-proprietary federation and identity-enabled Web services applications. With the adoption of Liberty’s open identity specifications continuously increasing, there are now well over one billion Liberty-enabled identities and devices. This number includes the identities of individuals around the world logging into Liberty-enabled Web sites as well as the many enterprise and consumer devices, such as smart cards, cameras, computers and mobile phones that currently support Liberty's identity management capabilities.

Development of Specifications based on business requirements – Liberty provides the ideal forum where deployers of identity solutions can bring technical and business challenges to a wide body of technology vendors to ensure that they can count on pertinent functionality across competitive products and services. Liberty Alliance has a rich history of rapidly developing specifications and services in an open, collaborative setting.

Liberty Interoperable™ -- The Liberty Alliance is the only global organization with a history of testing identity products for true interoperability of identity specifications. Since launching its Liberty Interoperable™ conformance program in 2003, over 70 identity products and solutions from multiple vendors around the world have passed Liberty Alliance interoperability testing. This widescale availability of proven interoperable technologies is allowing organizations to deploy trusted federated identity management and identity enabled Web services faster and on the widest possible scale.

Business and Deployment Guidelines – The Liberty Alliance recognizes that organizations need more than technology alone to deploy successful identity solutions. This is why Liberty Alliance regularly releases guidelines and best practices to help organizations successfully address the many business and policy issues involved in deploying and managing open identity solutions. Developed by Liberty identity experts from around the world working in a variety of vertical market segments, these guidelines and best practices help organizations speed the deployment of successful open identity solutions.

Deployment Workshops – The Liberty Alliance holds Liberty Federation and Liberty Web Services deployment workshops in various locations around the world. These educational workshops are open to anyone interested in learning about the technology, business and policy aspects of successful federated identity management and identity-enabled Web services from Liberty experts. A listing of upcoming deployment workshops along with information about how to register for these interactive events is here.

Work with Other Standards bodies -- The Liberty Alliance has always had a philosophy of “not reinventing the wheel” when it comes to developing identity specifications and regularly incorporates work from other open standards bodies into its standards. Likewise, other standards bodies such as 3GPP, OMA and TVAnytime have moved to incorporate Liberty specifications into their own output. Liberty’s ongoing work with standards bodies is significantly expanding Liberty’s deployment momentum in a variety of vertical market segments worldwide. This is so important to us, we even have a Standards Coordination Special Interest Group focused on it.

Users of identity management systems must trust that information shared online is secure and that their privacy is protected if digital identity management systems are to advance. Only Liberty Alliance has a Public Policy Expert Group (PPEG) made up of policy experts from around the world and formed to provide guidance and best practices for privacy within all Liberty deployments. Liberty’s PPEG works to ensure that Liberty specifications provide consumers and end users with built-in controls for protecting privacy across applications and while conducting e-business transactions from any computer or mobile device.

Liberty Alliance formed its Identity Theft Prevention Workgroup in 2005 to bring consumer groups, individuals and organizations together to collectively address the technology and policy issues surrounding online fraud and identity theft. Over 100 Liberty members from around the world participate in the group’s activities. The group recently published an “Identity Theft Primer,” the industry’s first whitepaper to explore the various types of identity theft and possible mitigating strategies. The document includes a detailed identity theft matrix, a glossary of attack vectors and an overview of the identity theft lifecycle.

The user experience has driven much of Liberty Alliance output since the Consortium was formed in 2001 and Liberty Alliance continues to set a standard in addressing the multi-dimensional issues surrounding user-centric identity management. Liberty Federation and Liberty Web Services have been developed with foundational controls for user privacy and security at their core. Liberty Alliance is further addressing the user experience based on the concepts of “user consent,” “user control” and “user centrism” to ensure a consistent user experience across enterprise and consumer-based Internet transactions.