NISO’s involvement in the new SeamlessAccess service stems from the RA21 Initiative. Members of SeamlessAccess’s Governance Committee are working to ensure that access to licensed information is as easy as it can be through smoothing out the federated authentication process. With so many faculty, students, and staff working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an even greater need for ease of access to information, and many opportunities for the NISO community to be engaged in this initiative.
Education and Outreach
SeamlessAccess recently launched a new educational video project designed to help both implementers and users understand how the service streamlines the federated authentication process for researchers, as well as what is happening technically below the surface. Two introductory videos are already available on the SeamlessAccess YouTube channel: How Federated Authentication Works and Privacy, Attributes, and Why They’re Important. More videos will follow, and we hope they will provide an easily shareable and understandable entryway into the complex workings of federated authentication.
New Entity Categories for Federated Authentication
One way in whichSeamlessAccess would benefit strongly from NISO community engagement is through providing your feedback on a new set of federated identity entity category standards, which have recently been made available for public comment by REFEDS, the Research and Education FEDerations group. NISO is participating in this standardization process, and it is vital that we ensure that the technical standards developed allow for privacy of user information. Three new entity categories are out for comment:
Authentication Only - this use case covers authentication only; the Service Provider does not want any attributes (specific pieces of data about an authenticated user) from the Identity Provider, just confirmation that the authentication was successful
Anonymous Authorization - this use case supports authorization decisions through the sharing of additional information such as entitlement data (e.g., faculty versus student), while keeping the user completely anonymous to Service Providers
Pseudonymous Authorization - this use case supports authentication and authorization, and also allows for personalization by Service Providers through the sharing of a per-service user identifier, without requesting any personal information such as name or email address
Each of these use cases is important for a particular facet of information access and for the protection of patron information. We strongly encourage the NISO community to participate by commenting on these proposed entity categories, to help us ensure that all issues are ironed out before they are formally published.
On Monday, August 10, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. EDT (14:00 UTC), NISO will be hosting a webinar titled Seamless Access Presents Entity Categories and Attribute Bundles, to provide librarians and publishers with the chance to discuss the new Entity Categories for Federated Authentication. This webinar is open to everyone, so please register now and share this information with anyone else who might be interested in learning more!
We’ll be providing regular updates on SeamlessAccess here in the coming months. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments about this initiative.