Compuserve debuts virtual passport

CompuServe has introduced the Virtual Passport to enable the online service provider to deploy its fee-based services and control user access over the Internet.

CompuServe has introduced the Virtual Passport, technology which will enable CompuServe to deploy its fee-based services and control user access over the Internet.

"The Virtual Passport is the next critical step in the evolution of CompuServe's fee-based services from proprietary technology to the open standards of the Internet," says Denny Matteucci, CompuServe's president of online services. "The Virtual Passport will allow users to carry the benefits of CompuServe membership with them across the Internet," he says.

The Virtual Passport will also allow CompuServe members to access fee-based sites, offered by companies which have agreements with CompuServe, at no additional charge using their CompuServe password, according to the company.

The Passport technology is based on a verification and authentication security protocol called remote passphrase authentication (RPA) developed by CompuServe, which the company hopes will draw small businesses to its proprietary online service to set up a secure sites for intranets and Web commerce. The protocol will work automatically with CompuServe 3.0, the new interface due out this US summer, and members will also be able to download versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and other browsers that are RPA-enabled.

CompuServe will make its RPA technology widely available and is currently negotiating distribution with various software development organisations. "RPA has been submitted to standards bodies, and we will make the technology freely available and encourage others to use it," says John Macko, product manager for security and access.

CompuServe, based in Columbus, Ohio, can be reached on the Web at http://www.compuserve.com.

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