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NEC Commences Joint Research on Anonymous Authentication Project for Smartphones

*** For immediate use March 26, 2012

Tokyo, March 26, 2012 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) announced today the commencement of joint research on anonymous authentication technologies (*1) with eight other international institutions, including France Telecom and Microsoft, to provide enhanced privacy services for smartphones.

In recent years, PC and smartphone services are increasingly widespread, including sophisticated payment and location-based services. Consequently, the risk of violating user privacy is also growing as these services verify users and terminals with IDs that can be used to track user access and behavioral history.

As a result, a great deal of attention is being drawn to cryptography-based, anonymous authentication technology that enables service providers to confirm access privileges while protecting the anonymity of users and terminals. 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, NEC is joining a research consortium along with France Telecom, Microsoft and other enterprises, that is funded by the French National Research Agency (l'Agence Nationale de la Recherche), the ANR (*2). "NEC's advanced research on anonymous authentication technology predates its membership to the consortium, where it is the only Asia-based company contributing to these privacy protection efforts," says Kazue Sako, research fellow, Central Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation. "We will continue to support research on technologies that protect privacy and security in order to offer a wide range of reliable products and services."

Please see below for details on the project and consortium members:

  1. Project Name
    Lightweight privacY-enhancing cRyptography for mobIle Contactless Services (LYRICS)

  2. Consortium Members
    1. Atos Worldline
    2. EB LIFO / ENSI de Bourges
    4. IRISA / Universite' de Rennes
    5. MoDyCo UMR 7114
    6. Microsoft
    7. NEC Corporation
    8. France Telecom (Orange Labs)
    9. Oberthur Technologies



*1 Anonymous authentication: technology that uses public key cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs to verify the access privileges of a user without directly identifying the user.

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