It’s hard to believe we have reached 46 REFEDS meetings! Our community remains engaged and passionate about supporting R&E federations, and their engagement in Tirana at TNC23 demonstrated that truth. Held on the Friday after TNC23 formally closed, REFEDS 46 saw roughly 70 attendees, including several newcomers, in the room.
The meeting opened with a discussion of the 2022 REFEDS Survey. While participation in the survey was low, even that offers valuable insight into the state of identity federations around the world. We will continue to promote the survey in the coming years, though, with more volunteer involvement to encourage responses.
From there, we heard updates on the REFEDS Assurance Framework and the MFA Profile, both engaged in community consultation this summer. We also had a “speed dating” style update for the status of different working groups, including the MRPS Update, Browser Changes and Federation, and Entity Category Development.
Stefan Listron (SUNET) offered an interesting discussion of what’s happening in the digital wallet space. This update aimed to help the community consider where and how digital wallets and personal identity services will interact with traditional federations. Tangui Coulouarn (DeiC) and colleagues provided an update on a fascinating convergence of efforts around federated SSH. SSH was a game-changer for security on the Internet, and seeing how it can be combined with federated identity is impressive. Several efforts are underway to do this, and GEANT is helping bring those efforts together.
There is quite a lot going on in our community, and we also heard updates from SimpleSAMLphp, which included a call for participation. While work on this project is active, the number of maintainers is small. Please engage!
Where REFEDS offers standards and best practices for identity federation, eduGAIN provides operational guidance and requirements. We heard about the latest changes to the eduGAIN f-ticks collector service, which has been updated to be entirely anonymous, and on the efforts to improve the eduGAIN governance model. If you haven’t seen what’s been proposed, you might want to review the now-closed consultation: https://wiki.geant.org/display/eduGAIN/2023+eduGAIN+Steering+Committee+ToR+Consultation
It would not be a REFEDS meeting without updates from participating federations. We heard from both the Australian Access Federation (AAF) and SWAMID. These federations are breaking new ground in finding ways to create a rich business model for their federation and offer their tools and experience to other federations around the world.
But wait, there’s more! Albert Wu (InCommon) and Mary McKee (Cirrus Identity) continued the conversation being held on the REFEDS mailing list about Microsoft’s efforts to support multilateral federation. This may be a very interesting opportunity for R&E because their work may legitimize our use case and give us a few more options.
The meeting closed with a discussion facilitated by Christoph Graf (SWiTCH) on government models. With the evolution of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), we are going to see new stakeholders enter the R&E world that do not understand the current architecture that has supported us for decades. So we need to ask ourselves the question, are our federations about SAML or about the data itself? Switch wants it to be the data, but others recognize our reality that we are so heavily protocol dependent this might be an irrelevant question. In either case, governance for R&E identity will be bigger in the future, and we won’t be the only voice in the room. It’s something to think about.
Our next in-person REFEDS meeting will be held in conjunction with the eduGAIN Town Hall in Stockholm, 10-11 October 2023. We hope to see you there!