Liberty Alliance Announces Formation of Messaging Service Interface Specifications Group

San Francisco, CA, June 20, 2005– Liberty Alliance, the global consortium for open identity standards and identity-based Web services, today announced the formation of a team focused on creating service interface specifications for content messaging, including both SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). This specification will be deployable based on Liberty’s Identity Web Services Framework (ID-WSF), and will offer more privacy-friendly content messaging for mobile device users and enhanced business opportunities for service providers.

Content messaging—content geared for mobile devices, such as ringing tones, skins, wallpapers and other premium services—is a rapidly growing business, particularly across Europe. Users are increasingly using (SMS) or (MMS) to obtain this content. The business model is straight-forward. Content providers advertise available content, prompting users to send a short SMS or MMS text message to obtain the content. The content provider receives the message, and then downloads the requested content to the user via a series of SMS messages with the content encoded.

“This business represents a large source of income for mobile operators and content providers alike,” explained Timo Skytta, vice president of the Liberty Alliance and director of Web services at Nokia. “But, it also represents a huge opportunity for privacy intrusion and increased SPAM since users are exposing their telephone number directly the content providers, who can then easily give or sell this information to others. The Liberty team recognized an opportunity to create a powerful service interface specification that would protect privacy, enhance the business opportunity for the content providers and deliver additional interoperability and ease of integration features, allowing service providers to team together to provide multiple offerings in a privacy-respecting manner.”

The Content SMS & MMS (CSM) Service Interface Specifications are being designed to provide content providers with access to a mobile network, allowing receipt and delivery of SMS and MMS messages both to and from users. In doing so, users will be able to obtain content for their devices anonymously, with the content providers unaware of the user’s mobile telephone number or address. The specification, based on existing Liberty’s identity management capabilities, will provide features such as different user identifiers for each content provider, periodic updating of these identifiers and user ability to terminate their federation with a content provider. This effort complements work that has already been completed within Liberty, through specifications as well as best practices guidelines, to help companies deploying Liberty specifications to comply with European privacy protection regulations.

A proof of concept application for the messaging service specification was demonstrated at a June 15, 2005, meeting of the messaging services group. The identity-enabled Web service, developed by Trustgenix and Vodafone, allows mobile subscribers to order content from a third party provider using their handset or a PC Web browser, while maintaining the anonymity of their phone number. The application is based on current Liberty and SAML federation standards. For more details on this proof of concept application see today’s related Trustgenix-Vodafone press release.

“In addition to the important privacy controls this new interface service will allow, standardization of all interfaces gives Content Providers one interface to implement versus having to implement different technologies for every operator,” explained Donal O’Shea, Executive Director of Liberty Alliance. “This is a true realization of the benefits of web services—for the user, the provider and the partners. As the seventh Service Interface Specification initiative brought forward by the Liberty Alliance membership, this further advances Liberty’s leading position as a Web services standards organization. Identity is the least common denominator for all value transactions over any network and with any device, and this is a core reason why organizations turn to Liberty when privacy and user-control are a must .”

All levels of members within Liberty Alliance are eligible to participate in the development of service interface specifications. Current members of the CSM Messaging subteam include Ericsson, Neustar, Sun, Symlabs, Telefonica Móviles, Trustgenix and Vodafone.

About Liberty ID-WSF
The Liberty Identity Web Services Framework (ID-WSF) standard supports the development of Web services. Web services typically require a number of standard functions, including authentication, security, service discovery, and the communication of service policy. Liberty ID-WSF provides such functionality, allowing the development of secure, privacy-protected, rich and interoperable Web services.

About the Liberty Alliance
Liberty Alliance (www.projectliberty.org) is an alliance of more than 150 companies, non-profit and government organizations from around the globe. The consortium is committed to developing an open standard for federated network identity that supports all current and emerging network devices. Federated identity offers businesses, governments, employees and consumers a more convenient and secure way to control identity information in today’s digital economy, and is a key component in driving the use of e-commerce, personalized data services, as well as Web-based services. Membership is open to all commercial and non-commercial organizations.

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SUPPORTING MEMBER QUOTES:

“Content messaging represents a huge opportunity for mobile providers to better meet the needs of consumers and deliver a richer, more fulfilling experience for their customers. Delivering, secure, standards based, privacy enabled solutions that leverage Liberty standards will help operators and their partners to weave trust into every offering they deliver to consumers and Sun is pleased to be part of the Liberty Alliance team focused on creating these new service interface specifications for content messaging. Because of the focus Liberty has on customer privacy and security, these specifications will also help consumers feel safer and more comfortable adopting content messaging services, which will help push federated identity management toward mainstream adoption.”

–Eric Leach, director of product management, Identity Management, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

“Liberty Alliance ID-WSF provides operators an ideal platform for managing third party value added content services in a way that ensures privacy of their subscribers. Symlab’s Liberty Identity Manager is a mobile network focused identity management tool that allows mobile users to invoke identity services, maintaining a high degree of privacy. The mobile content messaging service allows ring tones and screen savers to be delivered to subscribers without exposing the phone number to the third party, avoiding spam and privacy problems.”

–Sampo Kellomäki, CTO, Symlabs, Inc.

“The use of SMS&MMS by Telefonica Moviles clients is a very common way to communicate with external services, and currently there isn´t any open specification that solves the problem of identity and privacy management in this channel. Telefonica Moviles, with the creation of the CSM Services group, sees a great opportunity to complement current Liberty Alliance Specs, in order to have an open standard that completely fulfills Telefonica Moviles requirements and placing Telefonica Moviles in an ideal position to offer its customers personalized and individualized experiences.”

–Javier Gutierrez, Manager of Value Added Services Development, Telefonica Moviles Spain

“The Delivery of third party content using messaging services is a very profitable business for wireless network operators and one of the fastest growing applications among subscribers. Working with Vodafone and using our standards-based IdentityBridge product, we have been able to demonstrate how a secure messaging specification will protect a subscribers’ personal information without imposing costly and complex modifications to carrier networks.”

–Dr. Robert Aarts, Director of Engineering, Trustgenix

“Adding proper identity management and privacy control to the current content messaging service will reinforce this profitable business.”

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