Release Attributes for Science!

LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, recently announced that their project had detected ripples in the fabric of spacetime, proving a prediction made 100 years ago by Einstein. Many teams collaborated to ensure this result, and behind the scenes, they rely on effective federated identity management.

What this means, in the simplest terms, is scientists rely on the ability of research services to get attributes about their users from their Home Organisations. However, as REFEDS (Research and Education Federations) points out in an important blog entry, this is not at all smooth sailing.

In SWITCH, we know from our work with Swiss and pan-European eResearch  that attribute release is one of the most pressing issues for operators of research services in many fields. At the same time, we also understand the need to exercise caution while processing personal data and the workload of case-by-case decisions.

Therefore SWITCHaai supports a number of steps to help make this easier.

  1. Home organisations should sign up for the interfederation service eduGAIN to enable your users to access pan-European or global services.
  2. Users can consent to their attributes being released during in the login process.
  3. Home organisations can use the ‘Code of Conduct’ and ‘Research and Scholarship’ entity categories to scalably manage the risk of attribute release. This is supported in the SWITCHaai Resource Registry.
  4. Service providers can adopt the ‘Code of Conduct’ and ‘Research and Scholarship’ entity categories to increase trust. For services that opted-in for interfederation, the SWITCHaai Resource Registry supports it.

Leaving the last word to the research collaborations:

 We have many more years of gravitational-wave astronomy discoveries to come and realizing the full science potential will require close collaboration with astronomers and astrophysicists from around the world. eduGAIN and your national federations can help make that happen.

– Scott Koranda, lead architect for the LIGO Identity and Access Management

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