The Higgins Project is an open source software initiative aimed at giving individuals more control over how their information is used online. Its goal is to create a new software layer that can be built upon and expanded with other components and adaptors. The project splits identity information into small chunks of data, known as cards, which can be controlled by a user and are meant to replace traditional password-based login systems. Developers associated with the project are building software components based on the framework as well as encouraging others to build support for Higgins into their applications and services. The framework architecture of the project makes it possible to adapt existing technologies as needed, and Higgins is already compatible with several protocols and services related to security and identity management.
Initially known as the Eclipse Trust Framework, the project is now known by a number of names, including Higgins Project, Higgins Trust Framework, or simply Higgins. Its main goal is to enhance a user's control over their personal information by creating an abstraction layer, a secondary platform that other components can plug into. Developers can access this framework directly via Higgins' Application Programming Interface (API), or through service adaptors and plugins. The team behind Higgins is developing both the framework and other components that connect to it. It is an open source project, and developers are encouraged to build their own components using the framework.
A cornerstone of the Higgins Project is the concept of splitting identity information into small pieces known as cards, which can be easily managed by a user. This card system is somewhat similar to the way people store information on plastic cards in their wallets. In a digital context, cards can contain information ranging from credit card numbers to personal details. User-created personal cards contain personal details such as login information, while managed cards issued by a trusted organization or company can contain financial information or other data.
An early area of focus for developers associated with the Higgins Project was card management software, also known as a card selector. These selectors use a graphical interface to display available cards to a user, almost as if he or she were opening a digital wallet. Browser plugins known as active clients provide a way for this card system to be used with existing web technologies. Other card selectors run natively on a user's computer or even mobile device. Higgins is also developing resources for sites that issue managed cards, known as identity providers, and for relying parties — sites that rely on an identity provider for authentication purposes
The abstraction layer architecture of the Higgins Project means that many existing identity management protocols and technologies can be used. Directory-based identity services, such as the Lightweight Directory Access Protcol and Microsoft's Active Directory®, can be supported as data sources. Protocols like OpenID are supported as methods of authentication, and Microsoft's CardSpace™ technology can be used as a source for a Higgins card selector.