Secure buildings along the Information Highway

ACCOUNTABILITY for builders and occupants

It's been over ten years since the famous MIT Technology Review cover story declared that “The Internet Is Broken” – and headlines show that it's more broken today than ever.

Actually, it's not the Internet that’s broken at all. What's broken is the way we use that marvelous outdoor public transport system. We're holding our meetings, keeping our files, and letting our kids hang out by the side of a busy roadway.

The Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure (QEI) is all about indoor spaces. Think about it: where do you go to get things done, to pursue your life’s various agendas? While we enjoy the outdoors, we get things done in buildings. Some people a long time ago told us that the Internet was a highway and that our use of it resembled the use of a highway – the Information Highway. A principal use of highways is to bring us to buildings. Learning, shopping, and doing business by the side of a busy highway is just a nutty idea. It’s the source of our online security problems.

Why do we not use buildings for that purpose? We don't do indoor things inside online buildings because online buildings don’t exist (yet). There is currently no such thing as a habitable, trustable online building – but the vision we bring to that job is quite complete. The Authenticity Institute and its Authenticity Alliance introduce PKI Done Right - aka Authenticity™ - adding the “InDoor” layer of pervasive accountability to sit atop the old Information Highway.

The InDoors™ Infrastructure (the PLACES section of QEI, the Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure) brings secure indoor buildings to the Information Highway. The key to the InDoors Infrastructure is the occupancy permit: and the key to the occupancy permit is the professional license.

Online indoor (or InDoor™) facilities work the same way as physical buildings, except for the fact that in a physical building we rely upon visual and aural cues to tell us who is in the room with us. The Authenticity Infrastructure (the PEOPLE section of QEI) provides the same assurance to users of online spaces. Our word for the benefits of identity assurance is Authenticity.

“Quiet enjoyment” is a legal term from the real estate industry, summing up in two words the commitments made in a lease or a conveyance. Quiet enjoyment is what distinguishes usable indoor spaces from outdoor spaces such as physical roadways or the outdoor public transport system formerly known as the Information Highway – the Internet.

Construction materials don’t build themselves

Problem: Just as it is impossible to determine the intentions and character of the sender of a stream of bits, you cannot secure a machine or a network.

There you have the essence of QEI. Personal computers and phones and servers and switches and routers etc., are, like PKI, only construction materials. Would you look at a pile of components for construction of a bank vault and say, “That is secure”? Of course you wouldn't consider it to be secure until some qualified contractor made a bank vault out of it, under the auspices of a manufacturer who offered some kind of warranty certification of its security.

It’s the same with a building. A pile of the strongest construction materials is not only not a secure building, it's not even a habitable building. A set of plans that was personally signed by a legally accountable architect, a structure built by a legally accountable contractor, and an occupancy permit personally signed by a legally accountable building inspector are what turn that pile of strong construction materials into a habitable building. Without those you're better off living and working in a cardboard box than under a pile of really good construction materials.

Signatures from legally accountable human beings are a very important part of that building. Now how do you bring those signatures from legally accountable human beings to bear on your digital building, to make it a habitable indoor space? They'll be digital signatures rather than ink signatures of course. But that does not answer the question. Obviously the signatures must be made with the use of reliable digital credentials.

The key to a habitable building: The Occupancy Permit

The InDoors Infrastructure, the second set of components of the Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure, is all about the methods, procedures, standards and construction materials that allow for the one thing that substantiates the claim that a building is habitable, and that is its occupancy permit.

The big difference between physical and online real estate – other than the latter's elimination of rent expense, traffic jams, dress codes, etc. – is embodied in the occupancy permit. That document is what allows you, the occupant, to be able to trust a physical building. The occupancy permit declares the building to be habitable, and in almost all parts of the world it can be trusted.

Every InDoor™ facility must carry a valid occupancy permit signed by a licensed building inspector, who in turn must obtain signature releases from all licensed professionals involved in its design and construction: an architect and contractor, and in the case of large or complex data structures, a structural engineer.

Behind the occupancy permit: Professional licensing

An occupancy permit can be trusted because those who signed for its issuance have put their professional license – that is, their livelihood – on the line with their signature. If the building turns out to have serious flaws then the architect, contractor, and building inspector can all lose their license to practice their profession.

And behind professional licensing: Reliable identities of ACCOUNTABLE individuals

The “People” part of QEI — the Authenticity Infrastructure — shows what is involved in establishing a measurably reliable identity; about how the six components of the Authenticity Infrastructure, applied together, result in identity credentials of measurable reliability. The first professional license, the Attestation Officer, performs Digital Birth Certificate enrollments, which result in identity credentials with an Enrollment Quality score of seven or higher (on a scale of 0 to 9).

That higher-quality enrollment procedure will be one of eight components of an identity credential that will be bound to the next types of professional license: the Architect’s, Contractor’s, Structural Engineer’s, and Building Inspector’s Professional Licenses. In addition to the Enrollment Quality score of seven or higher, the total Identity Quality score of a candidate for the professional licenses of buildings professionals must be 42 or higher.

A good Identity Quality score is just the starting point. Even more important are demonstration of competence and evidence of personal integrity. To learn more about the benefits of a professional license and what’s involved in getting one, go to the Professional Licensing Office at