New Products Solve Internet Identity Crises


New Products Solve Internet Identity Crises

SQLWare and BBN take different tacks on World Wide Web confidentiality

By Shannon Henry
Staff Writer

Most people who give personal information when signing on to a World Wide Web site wonder how it's going to be used and who else will see it. Others - often on the selling side of a transaction - wonder if the person is really who he says he is.

Collecting information, such as annual salary, type of car driven and other preferences, is often the price of admission for sites. Other information, such as the visitor's location, can be automatically retrieved. It's a marketer's dream, but it's a privacy nightmare.

Joseph Bartling, CEO of SQLWare, said his company's new PurpleServer product allows users to anonymously bid on request for proposals.
An Internet database company, SQLWare Inc., Reston, Va., (pronounced "sequel ware") has just announced a product that would allay potential customers' fears by making them anonymous until they choose to be identified.

On the same day, BBN Corp., Cambridge, Mass., came out with a new security system designed to better prove who people are on the Internet.

SQLWare's PurpleServer lets a visitor check out a site without being identified.

"Everyone wants privacy," said Joseph Bartling, chief executive officer of SQLWare. Bartling said he's expecting systems integrators going after the government market to especially be interested because PurpleServer would allow them to anonymously bid on requests for proposals.

SQLWare's announcement at Washington Technology's Internet Summit Jan. 28 actually bucks the trend of increased Web user tracking and marketing. For example, Netscan Technology Corp., Vienna, Va., and others have created "profiling" systems that track Internet users' interests. Profiles are then used to direct market and advertise to potential customers.

Companies working on the identity issue have so far focused on security. BBN Corp.'s new confidentiality system - BBN SafeKeyper Certificate Management System - makes sure two-way communication over the Internet is secure. Through this service, BBN actually ensures the identity of users through digital signatures and certificates.

Digital certificates will be the Internet identification of choice in the coming years, according to a new study by Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. Paul Callahan, the analyst who wrote the report, said digital certificates are safer than passwords or other forms of identification. "As companies push to open up their networks to partners and customers, certificates will be mandatory," Callahan said.

Stephen Cohn, vice president of secure systems for BBN Systems and Technologies, said the end goal of his product is to encourage electronic commerce. Bartling would say the same of his own product.

Sales would eventually outweigh the loss of information, Bartling said, because so many more people would come to the page. "If you can get a million people to visit your site, you ought to be able to get 100 to buy something from you," Bartling said.

Besides the basic feeling that their privacy is being invaded, people have several other reasons they don't want their information collected on the Web. Some worry they will start getting loads of junk e-mail, which is probably already happening to them, Bartling said.

Others say, like in a store, that they are "just browsing" and simply don't want to talk to a salesperson. And some, who are using work time and equipment to surf, are afraid they will get into trouble with their employer, he said.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.


contracts DB