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Open source identity initiative
November 2018, Access Control & Identity Management

In a move that promises to accelerate the development of national identity schemes across the world, the Secure Identity Alliance has announced its Open Source API (Application Program Interface) initiative.

Directly addressing the high-cost problems of vendor lock-in and the lack of standardisation within today’s identity ecosystem, this new Open Source API project will deliver technical interoperability between civil registration registries and civil identification registries.

Developed within the SIA and endorsed by the world’s leading identity system vendors, this initiative demonstrates an industry-wide commitment to breaking down the technical barriers to achieving the United Nations goal of establishing a legal identity for every citizen.

By allowing multiple identity registries and systems to ‘talk’ to one another – independent of technology, solution architecture or vendor – the Open Source API will solve the interoperability challenges that have hampered the evolution of national identity systems. By delivering technical interoperability, governments can maximise the value of their existing identity systems and infrastructure, and invest in new solutions without integration problems or single vendor dependency.

In other words, governments can invest with confidence, preserving the value of existing systems while evolving their environments without the fear of vendor lock-in. This will ensure that governments are able to confirm citizens are the same person across various registries and issuing agencies, and that an individual’s data – or attributes – are up-to-date. Doing so protects the individual against the risk of identity theft and state agencies against fraud.

The Open Source API has been shared on Github (https://github.com/SecureIdentityAlliance) and anyone wishing to contribute is welcome.

The Secure Identity Alliance is dedicated to supporting the provision of legal, trusted identity for all, and to drive the development of inclusive digital services necessary for sustainable, worldwide economic growth and prosperity. It believes legal, trusted identity is the cornerstone of rights protection, social inclusion and digital economic development – and the access point to a wide range of essential public and private services.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Joseph J. Atick, executive chairman of the ID4Africa Movement, said: “The importance of initiatives of this type cannot be underestimated. A poll of delegates during the recent annual meeting of the ID4Africa Movement identified vendor lock-in as the biggest concern for those tasked with delivering national ID schemes. As the ID market matures, governments and implementing bodies must be free to select the most appropriate solutions without commercial or technical restrictions. The SIA’s Open Source API is a key enabler and a major step towards harmonising identity schemes across Africa.”

Launching the initiative, Debora Comparin, who leads the Open Source API for the SIA, comments: “This initiative is all about making a difference for governments and implementing bodies across the world. It not only reflects how fast the identity market is maturing, but also the commitment of its major players to solving legacy proprietary challenges through ever deeper levels of collaboration and openness. The publication of the Open Source API on GitHub is the first step and we welcome contributions from all players in the identity value chain.”

Frédéric Trojani, chairman of the Board of the SIA, comments: “While the abundance of proprietary technology is the natural consequence of the lack of recognised standards, we feel the industry must play a role in redressing the imbalance. As a not-for-profit association supported by the world’s leading identity providers, SIA is uniquely positioned to drive this openness agenda through our experience, technical expertise and global influence.”

More information is available at www.secureidentityalliance.org


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