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InCommon Federation Launched To Provide Unparalleled Privacy Protection For Users of Online Resources

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  • From: "Lauren B. Kallens" <>
  • To: <>
  • Subject: InCommon Federation Launched To Provide Unparalleled Privacy Protection For Users of Online Resources
  • Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 09:57:59 -0500

InCommon Federation Launched To Provide Unparalleled Privacy Protection For
Users of Online Resources

First Nationwide Trust Network To Link Universities, Resource Providers

Ann Arbor, MI - March 30, 2005 - InCommon, LLC today announced the official
launch of the InCommon(TM) Federation. Utilizing a federated approach for
authentication and authorization, InCommon enables higher education
institutions and their partners to share information and resources in a
highly secure environment while providing unparalleled privacy for
individual users. Using Shibboleth(R) open source software, a technology
developed by Internet2 members and deployed by over 150 organizations,
InCommon creates a shared trust framework for participating organizations to
make attribute-based decisions - not identity-based decisions - when
determining access privileges for protected online resources.

"Online materials have quickly become the cornerstone of most educational
environments today. But as online resources become more ubiquitous so have
the challenges of privacy, scalability, and cost," said Carrie Regenstein,
associate chief information officer at University of Wisconsin-Madison and
chair of the InCommon Steering Committee. "The goal of InCommon is to equip
higher education institutions and online resource providers with a credible
platform for exchanging information in a highly secure and
privacy-preserving manner while at the same time reducing the administrative
burdens associated with setting up multiple accounts and managing user

Elsevier's ScienceDirect(R),, the world's largest
online library for peer-reviewed scientific, technological, and medical
(STM) information, became one of the earliest adopters of Shibboleth and
InCommon as they recognized the immediate benefits to their business and
their customers.

"As a global STM publisher working for libraries, universities and other
educational institutions, we sought a comprehensive solution that would
provide our customers the broadest possible access to information while
maintaining a secure and cost-effective delivery channel," said Joep
Verheggen, director Elsevier ScienceDirect. "By participating in InCommon,
we can manage each customer's account via a standardized format which
removes the need for us and our customers to repeat integration work for
each new contract. Instead of being in the username and password business,
we're now able to focus on our core competencies as a resource provider."

In order to join InCommon both the institution and their resource provider
partners must deploy the standards-based Shibboleth software. Shibboleth
provides InCommon participants with the underlying infrastructure to
exchange the necessary information for authorization. Shibboleth leverages
institutional sign-on and directory systems to work among organizations by
locally authenticating users with their identity provider institution and
then passing only the relevant information about them to the resource
provider. This enables the provider to make an informed authorization
decision based on the user's applicable attributes rather than on their

InCommon acts as a secure conduit for both providing and gaining access to
collaborative Web-based resources. Penn State, a leading U.S. higher
education institution, has been at the forefront of Shibboleth
implementation, effectively providing their students, faculty and staff with
easier, more secure access to resources like Napster, the University's
digital music partner, and WebAssign, a course management technology, by
simply using their Penn State login and passwords. By leveraging the
InCommon framework, universities like Penn State can use their existing IT
infrastructure and a standardized process for an unlimited number of
resource providers.

"InCommon is reducing the need for our researchers, students, and educators
to maintain multiple, password-protected accounts for each of our resource
provider partners," said Gary Augustson, vice provost for information
technology at Penn State. "At the same time, InCommon also protects the
privacy of our community by empowering us with the ability to control what
information about our community can be revealed externally."

In support of a standard trust framework for all participants, InCommon
verifies participating institutions and their designated representatives to
ensure their identity and credibility. InCommon also administers a
certificate authority (CA) to enable secure, encrypted messaging, thereby
guaranteeing trusted communication between participants. InCommon requires
participants to post information about operational practices and privacy
policies to ensure transparent collaboration.

In addition to Penn State and Elsevier, InCommon has already begun to make
aggressive in-roads within the higher education and research community.
Early participants of InCommon include: Internet2, OCLC Online Computer
Library Center, OhioLink - The Ohio Library and Information Network,
Dartmouth College, Cornell University, The Ohio State University, SUNY
Buffalo, University of California - Irvine, UCLA, University of California -
Office of the President, University of California - San Diego, University of
Rochester, University of Southern California, University of Washington, Case
Western Reserve University, New York University, and Georgetown University.

About InCommon
The InCommon Federation provides higher education institutions and their
sponsored resource partners with unparalleled privacy, security and
scalability for accessing protected online resources. InCommon is based on
the concept of federated administration enabling participants to become part
of an association of organizations that agree on a set of attributes and
policies to exchange information about their users for access to restricted
resources. As a limited liability company, InCommon is operated by Internet2
and managed by an independent Steering Committee representing the higher
education and research community. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Lauren Kallens


  • InCommon Federation Launched To Provide Unparalleled Privacy Protection For Users of Online Resources, Lauren B. Kallens, 03/30/2005

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