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Privacy Project ­ses Cryptography to Reduce Shared Info


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An electronic wallet that encrypts the owner's personal information is being developed by IBM researchers working on the European-funded Attribute-Based Credentials for Trust (ABC4Trust) project. The device will only allow the sharing of information that is strictly necessary to complete a transaction, and the concept also is applicable to online transactions.

IBM researcher Jan Camenisch says the protection of online privacy involves the application of two fundamental precepts, one being that each piece of shared information specifies what the information is used for. "The second is that whenever you release something, you should only release the information that is minimally necessary for this purpose," he says.

The goal of the four-year ABC4Trust project is defining all the technology needed to provide the encryption-enabled electronic wallet. All personal details could theoretically be crunched into a single encrypted number that could be contained in a cell phone. Camenisch says a retailer or service provider would have a device that transmits requests for specific pieces of data to the handset. The phone would list the specific requested information and then generate an encrypted token storing the answers. Camenisch says the principle is workable for online transactions.

From BBC News
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