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The Kantara Initiative has published the latest revision of its data-sharing protocol that includes updates targeted at higher education.

User-Managed Access (UMA) supports secure, private and user-controlled sharing of data between and among individuals, groups and organizations. It is being incubated by Kantara and gaining interest at the IETF as part of the post-OAuth 2.0 work. UMA is built on OAuth.

This fifth revision of UMA takes on the use case of students sharing college transcripts. The revision helps students share those transcripts in a timely, trustworthy, and secure way.

UMA isn’t confined to higher education, the protocol has relevance around social networking sites such as Facebook, and offers users control over more sensitive data stores such as health-care records and government databases.

The UK's Newcastle University, which has adopted UMA for its Student-Managed Access to Online Resources (SMART) system, is aiming to help students control sharing of transcripts and other personal data stored on the school’s network.

Recently, Newcastle integrated SMART with the UK Federation, a collection of nearly 1,000 schools, universities and supporting organizations that ties together educational and research resources.  The UK Federation is based on Shibboleth, which is built on the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and was created by the Internet 2 project in the U.S.

“Over the years, universities have significantly reduced the paperwork students have to deal with and are now providing services online for academic data management. We believe User-Managed Access is a key technology to securely open up access to this data and give students full control. With UMA, students can share their online data selectively when forming collaboration groups for research projects or when applying for post-graduate jobs,” Maciej Machulak, SMART team leader, CEO of Cloud Identity Ltd, and UMA vice-chair, said in a statement.

British schools are not the only outlet for UMA. The Attribute Exchange Network (AXN) pilot, recently funded with $4 million by the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), is including the protocol as part of its work.

“UMA enables AXN users to manage their identity attributes in simple, transparent, and secure ways, thereby strengthening online trust,” pilot co-chair David Coxe said in a statement.

For more on UMA, Kantara is hosting a free webinar Oct. 17 at 8 am Pacific time. The event will include discussion and live demos that show UMA benefits for higher education and other communities that need to secure private data sharing.

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