Gaps to Map

Right before the IETF in Anaheim I’m off to the ISOC Identity event: Mapping the Gaps in DC. This post is a set of possible discussion points for that event. The event will focus on the gaps between the technological and policy/legal view of the identity metasystem.

Standardized Federation Policy and Practice Statements

Building identity federation involves establishing policy documents and practice statements analogous to the CP and CPS of a PKI. In the world of public key infrastructure there are templates to start from – RFC 3647, ETSI TS 102 042, ANSI X9.79, etc. In the world of federations there is no such help. We need those and we need them to be simpler (if possible) than their PKI cousins.

Simplified/Standardized Federation Contracts

Joining a federation (as an SP or IdP) often involves signing some form of contract. For an SP joining multiple federations the fact that no two contracts look alike soon becomes a problem. There are at least two ways around this:

  • Make the contracts easily comparable – i.e standardize!
  • Do away with the contracts all together.

In may situations having a contract will probably be inevitable but in certain cases it might be perfectly reasonable not to have a contractual relationship between (say) an SP and a federation. I’ve blogged about this and there has been some work in this area.

Separate technical trust from federation metadata

Technical trust for identity federation is often (at least in many R&E federations) represented as signatures on SAML metadata documents which contain keys for the member entities. This works (often better than using a traditional PKI) but it does tie technical trust management in with a particular identity technology. We need a way to represent technical trust which is easier to setup and maintain than PKI and which can be applied to all identity technologies in use today.

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