Liberty Alliance President Steps Down

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United Airlines CIO Eric Dean has left his position as president of the management board of the Liberty Alliance, the group formed by Sun Microsystems last year to protect user identity on the Internet.

Michael Barrett, vice president of the board and vice president of Internet strategy at American Express, will act as interim chairmanof the Liberty Alliance until it elects a new president, the alliance said.

A spokeswoman for the Liberty Alliance said Dean stepped down due to the challenges United Airlines is facing as financial troubles continue to plague the airline industry.

"Market conditions in the airline industry really demand that he focus on the duties of CIO," the spokeswoman said.

United Airlines said it will replace Dean's position on the board with another company representative.

The Liberty Alliance does not expect its work to be interrupted and will deliver its next set of specifications on schedule in the first quarter of next year, according to the alliance.

Sun spearheaded the Liberty Alliance a year ago this month as an initiative to develop specifications giving trusted institutions such as banks and credit-card companies access to a Web user's identity information. It was positioned against services such as Microsoft Passport, which gives one vendor control of information.

In July, Liberty unveiled its first specification for enabling federated network identity. At the same time, Sun unveiled support for Liberty in its Sun ONE Network Identity Platform, one of the key components of its software strategy.

There are 16 Liberty Alliance board members representing the founding companies. In addition to executives from Sun and United Airlines, the board includes representatives from AOL Time Warner, Bell Canada, Citigroup, France Telecom, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, MasterCard International, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Openwave Systems, Sony, Vodafone and RSA Security.

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