If this will help people keep secrets from Microsoft I’m all for it

Stefan Brands, the brilliant crypto and privacy guy, writes

I am thrilled to announce that Microsoft has acquired Credentica’s U-Prove™ technology, together with all of the underlying patents. Microsoft plans to integrate the technology into Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Cardspace. Check out the blogs of Kim Cameron and Microsoft’s Corporate Privacy Group for more information.

In addition, I and my stellar colleagues Greg Thompson and Christian Paquin have joined Microsoft’s Identity and Access Group. We will be working very closely with Kim Cameron and many other Microsoft experts to bring the technology to market.

I cannot begin to express how incredibly excited I am about this milestone. It marks not only the end of an entrepreneurial journey of fifteen years, but also the start of a tremendously exciting new phase that I have been working towards for a long time. To expound, from the early nineties on the technology has always enjoyed considerable interest from leading industry players, first for electronic cash purposes and later for digital identity and access control purposes. Throughout these years I ignored acquisition offers, primarily out of concern that the technology would end up in the dustbin.

The zero-knowledge proof stuff has been looking for someone with deep pockets for more than 20 years. In the early days there were some legitimate objections that the signed objects you had to pass around (several whole kilobytes in size) were too big to be practical. But Moore long since put paid to that, and it’s mostly, I think, that the evolution of the commercial internet has relied on being able to force identification down users’ throats even when they didn’t want or need it, because the cross-linking information could be sold for a pretty penny.

Of course Microsoft could still screw this up horribly, as they’ve done with so many plausible ideas even before the paper clip…

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