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Liberty Schema's Power to The People

The Liberty Alliance has released the second version of its Web services framework, including the group's People Service for letting computer users securely access social applications such as blogs.

Part of ID-WSF 2.0, the People Service allows enterprises and service providers to shuttle social software, such as blogs, instant messaging and photos, to consumers and enterprise users.

Paul Madsen, co-chair of the Liberty Alliance Technology Expert Group, said the People Service will let users manage all of their online social relationships and give permission to others to access information at various social application sites such as networking entity Friendster and photo-sharing service Flickr..

In the Liberty tradition of providing secure transactions, the People Service also ensures tighter control of identity information and increased protection from identity theft and fraud, Madsen said.

For example, users invited to view information with applications within the social network can do so without being required to establish a new account at each site. This provides greater control of identity information by reducing the duplication of data throughout the network.

How does the People Service work? Madsen provided a consumer and enterprise scenario in a document.

Suppose Bob, a subscriber to online networking services, wants to share pictures with friend Tony. But he wants to limit the photos Tony can view at the photo-sharing application to one folder containing recent vacation pictures.

But Tony does not have an account at the photo-sharing application and doesn't want one. With Liberty People Service, Bob can invite Tony to view the information based on privacy controls he has established in his federated social network. Tony can view his photos without having to create an account or provide personal information.

The technology would also work in the enterprise, helping corporate employees use the People Service to define the groups and/or roles of colleagues at their company and others.

Employees can define access control rules for their calendars, ensuring that they all see only the appropriate subset of the full calendar. They can also send out documents to colleagues working on a particular project without having to create a separate mailing list.

Madsen said Liberty created the service because there is no consistent, secure layer to help people interact online.

"The current Web doesn't help people find each other and, once found, interact with each other," Madsen said.

In other enhancements, Liberty said the ID-WSF 2.0 now allows SAML 2.0 assertions to be used as security tokens, and WS-Addressing to enable asynchronous messaging capabilities.

Liberty will release the final version of ID-WSF 2.0 during the first half of next year. But those interested in checking out the ID-WSF 2.0 specs may view them now here.