LYRICS consortium formed to research anonymous contactless authentication

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Nine companies and academic institutions, including France Telecom, Microsoft and NEC, have formed a consortium to develop a means of providing anonymous authentication for users of smartphones using contactless services.

The consortium, called LYRICS (Lightweight privacY-enhancing cRyptography for mobIle Contactless Services) wants to research technology that could confirm access privileges while protecting the anonymity of users and devices. LYRICS intends to provide an open, general-purpose architecture for privacy-preserving contactless services and a set of cryptographic mechanisms for implementing and deploying these services on NFC-enabled mobile phones.

A statement from NEC, one of the contributing companies, said that increasingly sophisticated payment and location-based services carry the risk of violating user privacy as these services verify users and terminals with IDs that can be used to track user access and behavioural history.

As a result, a great deal of attention is being drawn to cryptography-based, anonymous authentication technology. However, this technology requires a large amount of computation power, comparable to a personal computer, which is a challenge for implementing on smartphones, where computing power and battery time are more limited.

In order to address these issues the French National Research Agency (l'Agence Nationale de la Recherche) is providing EUR 900,000 funding for the LYRICS project, co-ordinated by Orange Labs.

The project was formed in December 2011 and will run for 36 months. More detals are available here.

The nine members of the LYRICS consortium are:

Atos Worldline
EB LIFO / ENSI de Bourges

GREYC/ENSICAEN

IRISA / Université de Rennes

MoDyCo UMR 7114

Microsoft

NEC Corporation
France Telecom (Orange Labs)
Oberthur Technologies