Visa International has followed American Express and MasterCard in joining the Liberty Alliance Project, a cross-industry consortium committed to developing an Internet identity programme to challenge Microsoft's rival Passport initiative.
The international card association is one of eleven new members who have signed up to the alliance - the other new recruits are ActivCard, Catavault, EarthLink, EDS, Nextel, OneName Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Register.com, Schlumberger Sema and VeriSign.
The Liberty coalition was formed by Sun in a bid to develop standards governing the control and maintenance of personal information on the Internet. The Alliance, which now has a total of 38 members, plans to release initial specifications for decentralised user authentication by the middle of this year. The aim of the specifications is to ensure the security of e-commerce transactions over a range of Web connected devices using single sign-on identity.
Eric Dean, chairman of the Liberty Alliance management board and chief information officer of United Airlines, says: "The Liberty Alliance is committed to creating an independent, open standard for user identity that puts the user first...This can be accomplished by making it clear to users how their personal information is being used, giving them control over how it is handled, and providing the convenience that will result from companies working together."
The participation of Visa follows the recent signings of American Express and MasterCard to the project in December 2001.
Membership of the Alliance is open to all commercial and non-commercial organisations.