Parity provides free online identity management

New CardPress service provides a hosted application for associations, organizations, and merchants wanting to issue information cards.

Robert Vamosi Former Editor
As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.
Robert Vamosi
2 min read

Imagine finding the perfect gift via Google and then purchasing it in one click without typing in your password or credit card information. On Thursday, Parity, an information management company, announced a new Web service called CardPress that makes issuing online information cards a little easier.

Information cards are online equivalents of physical ID cards, such as a driver's license. Online customers would have an electronic wallet with various information cards, bypassing the need to type in user names and passwords. A student accessing a university network, for example, would simply present his or her electronic student information card.

CardPress provides Web sites with a free (for low-volume usage) turn-key, hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. The information cards are designed for associations, organizations, and merchants, and can enable one-click log-ins, phishing protection, and single sign-on (SSO) across multiple partner sites, and can eliminate costs associated with restoring lost or forgotten passwords. "We consider the service a tremendous building block for the information card ecosystem," a Parity representative told CNET News.

Currently there are only two organizations offering or soon to offer CardPress cards. Boston Community Change, which rewards charitable donations to local schools, is only open to Boston-area residents. The Minuteman Library Network, a consortium of libraries in Massachusetts, also plans to offer the cards. The service would allow Minuteman Library members secure access to online resources. Both are available through an electronic wallet site called Azigo (currently in beta). In the coming days, Parity expects to add more associations.

In June the Information Card Foundation (ICF) was created with the stated goal of increasing awareness of the use of electronic ID cards on the Internet, and encouraging interoperability in business around new standards. Member companies include Equifax, Google, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and PayPal, plus nine leaders in the technology community. Paul Trevithick, CEO of Parity, is the current chairman of the ICF.

Unlike having a credit card number, which anyone on the Internet can use at anytime, the ID card model proposed by the ICF requires that all three players (user, provider, reliant party) be synced in real time before the transaction can proceed. A user would sync via encrypted connection with an ID provider (say a bank or credit card issuer), and also with a reliant party (a university network, a financial site, or an e-commerce site).