EBU project targets cross-platform authentication

Monday, August 12th, 2013
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The growth of internet connected receivers has opened the possibility of providing more personalized services in the usually anonymous world of broadcasting.

A newly established project group aims to make it easier for broadcasters to provide more personalized user experiences. While the growth of internet-connected TV and radio receivers has opened up many new possibilities for innovative online and hybrid services, authentication remains a blocking point. A solution to this problem would unlock the potential for a minor revolution in the usually anonymous world of broadcasting.

Established by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)’s strategic programme on TV Platforms & Services, the Cross-Platform Authentication (CPA) project group will develop an alternative to proprietary single sign-on systems that already exist. The group will develop a variant of the widely implemented open standard OAuth 2.0 protocol specifically targeted at IP-connected media devices. The proposal may ultimately be submitted for adoption in OAuth 2.0.

The CPA group is chaired by the BBC’s Sean O’Halpin (pictured), who is the lead engineer in the BBC R&D Internet Research and Future Services section. The new group’s objectives are to simplify the user experience for accessing multiple services across different platforms and devices, while protecing users’ information and ensuring data isolation between broadcasters. The protocol will need to take into account the range of device capabilities in terms of displays and input methods.

Independent Alternative

The lack of standards in this area has led to early adopters taking the easy option of hooking into pre-existing authentication systems from popular web-based services like Facebook or Yahoo!. However for broadcasters, and public service media organizations in particular, it would be preferable to have the option of using an independent solution that is not under the control of a commercial company.

Participation in the CPA project group is open to various types of contributor, including broadcasters and manufacturers. The frist meeting will be held in early September. Those who wish to join the group need to first create a tech.ebu.ch user account and then join via the group homepage.