New paper accepted for publication

Earlier this year, I was able to work with a couple of very bright colleagues – Susan Landau and Hubert Le Van Gong – on a paper setting out some of our ideas for “privacy in depth” in federated identity systems.

I’m delighted to say that we’ve just heard the paper was accepted to be part of the proceedings of the Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2009 conference. The honour of presenting it (in Barbados in February – dirty work, but someone has to do it…) rightly goes to Susan Landau, who was not only the creative force behind the work but also undertook all of the most tiresome editing tasks.

Speaking of Susan (and she will probably send me a mail bomb when she reads this) reminds me of something I have been meaning to blog for a while.

A couple of years ago I visited a customer with some of my sales colleagues; I was there to talk to the customer about federated identity, set out where we thought it was going, and see what we could come up with in terms of possible application to their business. As we headed back across the car park after the meeting, one of my colleagues said to me: “You know, there are some times when I see one of my colleagues at work and it makes me proud to work for Sun. That was one of them.”

I can honestly say that that was the nicest professional compliment I have ever been paid. However – and in keeping with the ingrained English tendency to beat compliments away with a stick – that isn’t the point.

A year ago at the HP Colloquium I heard Susan give her talk on technology and privacy, and in particular on the privacy-hostile effect of much recent public policy (both US and UK), and was struck by the three core qualities Susan brought to the presentation:

– the technical competence to know what she was talking about;
– the clarity of vision to see how the technology and policy interacted to produce the outcomes;
– the ethical integrity to stand up and speak out.

All of a sudden, I knew what my colleague had meant – I felt proud to work for a company which would have someone do what Susan did. You often hear management gurus and self-help pundits imply that the road to self-fulfilment as a human being is to be a great employee; actually, I think Susan’s example shows that the best way to be a great employee is to be a great human being.

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