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Baby Steps and Big Leaps

This week marks two months since the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG) first convened in Chicago.  Looking across the IDESG, I’m pleased to see a wide range of activities taking place all focused on advancing the Identity Ecosystem, and ultimately achieving our shared goal of enhancing online choice, efficiency, security, and privacy. Over a thousand individuals representing more than four hundred entities have started on the complex and challenging task of developing the Identity Ecosystem Framework.   Some efforts have made big leaps forward.  Others are still taking their first baby steps – and in some cases stumbling along the way.  Given that this is a startup organization, we’re not at all surprised to see both successes and glitches.  As we head into the next IDESG Plenary Meeting October 29-30 at the Dulles Hilton, I wanted to take a step back to reflect on all that has happened these last two months, and give a preview of what will come next. We’ve been thrilled to see vibrant activity across most of the standing committees and working groups.  For example:
  • The Standards Standing Committee has developed an initial list of identity standards to use as a reference for the IDESG, and is starting to develop a set of use cases.
  • The Privacy Coordination Committee has broad participation across a spectrum of stakeholders and has kicked off development of a privacy evaluation methodology to review work products developed within the IDESG.
  • The International Coordination Working Group is developing a baseline inventory of international identity efforts (including technical, legal, policy and usability details) as a resource for the IDESG.
  • The Trust Framework Working Group is working closely with the Accreditation Standing Committee to determine the components and scope of Trust Frameworks within the IDESG, and will soon begin work compiling existing accreditation and certification assessment criteria for future use within the Ecosystem.
  • The Financial Services Working Group is developing use cases and collecting an inventory of regulatory issues.
Charters are coming in each day from the Standing Committees and Working Groups, laying out what each proposes to tackle as the Steering Group crafts an Identity Ecosystem Framework.  And the Governance Task Force has built upon the early draft governance documents and strengthened them through a collaborative process.  A new set of documents is set to be presented to the full plenary for approval during the next meeting of the IDESG. While we’ve had a lot of successes in the first two months, it is also clear that not everything has been rosy:
  • Some working groups have not met regularly, and are struggling to articulate their unique role. 
  • The Secretariat has taken more time than some stakeholders expected in ramping up its collaboration infrastructure and establishing regular communications.  This is thankfully on pace to be addressed by the end of the month.
  • From my perspective, the imminent challenge is the need to unify all IDESG members around a common workplan to develop an Identity Ecosystem Framework – essentially an answer to the question “what is it that we’re building here?”.  This a concern:  We may all agree that we’re trying to build a “dog” (on the Internet, of course).  But if one working group is building parts for a Chihuahua and another one for a Great Dane, then the end product is going to be awfully messy and hard to integrate. 
Opportunely, the next plenary meeting, October 29-30 at the Dulles Hilton will provide a chance to work through this issue as a group.   I am excited to see that the majority of the Day 1 agenda developed between the Secretariat and the Plenary Chair, Bob Blakley,  will focus on how to best align efforts across the Standing Committees and Working Groups to ensure that these diffuse efforts can produce a comprehensive framework for the identity ecosystem.  A high level agenda has already been posted by the Secretariat, including specifics of the individual standing committee and working group meetings.  As always, virtual participation will be enabled for those unable to attend in person.  To register for the meeting and to learn more, please visit We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience as the IDESG works through its early days.  And, we very much appreciate the feedback – both good and bad – that you all have provided.  Many stakeholders have pointed out that creating an Identity Ecosystem would not be easy, and that is certainly something that has been proven to date.  But notwithstanding a few bumps in the road, we’ve been incredibly excited that on the whole, we see an Identity Ecosystem Steering Group that is making big leaps forward.  We look forward to our continued partnership with you in support of advancing the Identity Ecosystem.       


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