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IBM–led European research consortium receives IAPP Privacy Innovation Award

Consortium gives technology users more control of personal Internet data

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Orlando, USA, and Zurich, Switzerland—24 September 2008: At the IAPP Privacy Academy 2008 in Orlando, Florida, the European research project Privacy and Identity Management for Europe (PRIME), which has been led by IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) Zurich Research Lab, was internationally recognized by the leading privacy association for its pioneering concepts and solutions for user-centric privacy and identity management.

While information technologies and the Internet are bringing individuals and organizations continuous benefits and hold even greater promise for the future, because of the growing efficiency of mining and storing digital data, privacy of users is at greater risk than ever before. To preserve this essential right, the individual's autonomy and control over personal information must be regained and maintained.

“The PRIME project was instrumental in transforming the privacy landscape. Before PRIME, identity management on the Internet did not take the user’s privacy into account. Now, the notion of user-centric privacy-enhancing identity management has become mainstream,” states Dr. Jan Camenisch of IBM’s Zurich Research Lab and PRIME’s technical leader. “Moreover, with the new technical solutions developed within the project, we could indeed demonstrate that privacy-enhancing identity management is ready for practice.”

User-centric identity management is all about putting the users back in control of their personal data on the Internet. At the heart of the solution are mechanisms that reduce the use of personal data in Internet services and applications to the essential and required minimum. The PRIME integrated prototype, which was one of the important achievements recognized by the IAPP Privacy Innovation Award, is a pioneering solution that demonstrates how such a system can be implemented technologically: The PRIME client software works as a pseudonym manager and includes convenient form-filler functions. If also the Internet service provider is PRIME-enabled, the software will permit anonymous transactions using credentials issued by trusted third parties, thereby enabling secure Internet transactions without actually transmitting and thus exposing personal information.

A core component of the prototype is the Identity Mixer technology, developed at IBM’s Zurich Research Lab. Using that system, participants of a teenage on-line forum, for example, could use their government-issued identity credential to confirm that they are indeed between 12 and 15 years old.  The Identity Mixer software digitally masks the credential so that the user can send it to the forum provider and get legitimate access to the forum without revealing any other identity information apart from that he or she is 12 to 15 years old. The system also protects the user from tracing and profiling based on authentication data.

PRIME has shown that privacy-enhancing identity management is viable and ready for practice. PRIME built a sound foundation of legal, social, economic, and application-specific requirements to achieve this ambitious goal. As pure privacy technology, it features an innovative architecture and framework for privacy and identity management that govern privacy-relevant access control, data retention, obligation, and policy elements. The PRIME components were implemented in demonstrators for Internet browsing, location-based services, collaborative e-learning, air travel, and e-health.

The PRIME project, which was completed in May 2008, was the flagship project of the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme to address the privacy issue. It brought together 20 leading academic and industrial research institutions, and also received funding from the Swiss Federal Office for Education and Science.

The success of PRIME is evidenced by the number of offspring projects, including “PrimeLife”, PICOS and PrivacyOS—bringing privacy high up on the European research agenda. “PrimeLife”, also coordinated by IBM’s Zurich Research Lab, is the direct successor project of PRIME and aims at empowering users to manage and control their personal data and privacy throughout their entire lifetimes, whenever they participate in Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networks or virtual communities, which raise substantial new privacy challenges.

The IAPP Privacy Innovation Award, sponsored by HP, each year honors winners in three categories: large enterprises, small enterprises, and technology. PRIME received the award in the category technology, 2008 marks the sixth consecutive year that the IAPP will recognize organizations that have made significant contributions to the field of privacy.

About the IAPP

The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) is the world's largest association of privacy professionals. Founded in 2000, the mission of the IAPP is to define, promote, and improve the privacy profession globally. Based in York, Maine, USA., the organization represents over 5,000 members from businesses, governments and academia across 32 countries. The IAPP is responsible for developing and launching the first broad-based credentialing program in information privacy, the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).

For more information on PRIME visit: www.prime-project.eu

For more information on PrimeLife visit: www.primelife.eu

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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