Security and Identity: Balancing Privacy, Flexibility, and Ease of Use

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Weighing the Issues to Find the Right Balance
The American Accounting Association (AAA) is one example of an organization with a great deal of intellectual capital that is weighing its options to find the right balance between open and secure access, paid and free content. Smith David has been working with the association on its intellectual property platforms and issues related to "balancing privacy of content with also reaching global members, how to get visibility for their intellectual property, how to encourage the extension of current content, how to enable people to work together to develop new content-and how to do all of these while considering the security implications."

AAA has content that includes large, national meetings with multiple plenary speakers and keynote speakers that have been videotaped. "How do you take that intellectual property and deliver it on a secure platform?" Smith David asks. "Or, do you really want to make it available to the world?" What AAA has done is chosen an online platform that offers the ability to have multiple levels of security at both an individual and a group level. For each piece of content, it can then determine whether it wants to make it available to the world, to members of specific groups, to only paid members, etc.

"A lot of the world is still pretty concerned about wanting to keep everything private, but there is a growing portion that is equally concerned about the need for visibility for the organization and its members," says Smith David. AAA has found a two-step approach to be effective, she says. "For some of the videos we've created five-minute summaries that are available to the world. Then if somebody wants to see the 45-minute presentation they need to log in and/or, depending on the video, join the organization and then have access to the whole content."

Protecting your information-protecting the information of those who are so interested in accessing your information that they're willing to share their valuable identifying information with you, even such proprietary and sensitive information as credit card and Social Security numbers-certainly shouldn't be taken lightly.

Fortunately, there is ample technology that exists to aid in the protection of information on both sides. The key is finding technology solutions that will not overly burden users by creating too many or too challenging barriers to cross as they attempt to access the information they need. And beyond technology, content owners need to consider the right balance between locking down and sharing information freely. Ultimately, the goal should be finding a reasonable balance between security and access to flexible, usable, and readily accessible content for those who have the appropriate authorization to access that content.

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