Annoucing the formation of the Cross Platform Authentication project group

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Sean O'Halpin

Aug 19, 2013, 10:48:28 AM8/19/13

As a result of the work we've done over the past couple of years with RadioTAG,
it's become clear that authentication should not be embedded within
the RadioTAG specification and should in fact be shared across all
RadioDNS protocols. It doesn't take much of a leap to realise that if
that is the case, then it makes no sense to restrict such a protocol to radios only.
As a result of discussions with colleagues in the BBC and across the industry,
it's become clear that a solution to authentication that worked across all kinds
of IP-connected media devices would be welcome.

As part of the EBU TV Platforms Strategic Programme, a project group
on Cross Platform Authentication has been set up to come up with an
open, standard way of authenticating IP-connected media devices. The
group is chaired by me, Sean O'Halpin of BBC R&D and coordinated by
Michael Barroco of the EBU.

I outline the aims and rationale of this group below.

Hybrid media devices which can deliver audio, video and interactive
content over both broadcast and broadband create new opportunities and
challenges to traditional broadcasters. Augmenting the broadcast
experience with personalized services delivered over the internet
changes the classic one-to-many paradigm to something closer to a
one-to-one relationship.  However, due to a lack of standards,
broadcasters are struggling to implement such experiences.

A fundamental enabler for personalized services is
authentication. Authentication associates a unique user identity with
a receiver so that a broadcaster can provide, for example,
personalized content, recommendations or targeted advertising.

One current difficulty lies in the fact that every broadcaster,
device, even every application on a Smart TV or radio implements its
own authentication mechanism which results in a very unsatisfactory
user experience. Users are obliged to manage a lot of different
accounts, covering the same functionalities across different devices
and platforms. This becomes unwieldy when we consider the number of
devices, platforms, apps and broadcasters to which a user is now

We want to define a protocol targeted specifically at IP-connected
media devices based on the widely implemented industry standard OAuth
2.0 protocol. This protocol will define how devices with limited input
and output capabilities (e.g. radios with 16 character LEDs and only
push buttons) can acquire an authenticated bearer token. Being based
on OAuth 2.0, the protocol should also be capable of scaling to Smart
TVs with embedded web browsers.

We also want to address the issue of interoperability, i.e. how
different broadcasters and device manufacturers can share
authentication. This should include the possibility of using agreed
third party authentication services without requiring a central global

If you have an interest in this specification, you can join the
discussion by registering here:  There
you will also find details about the inaugural meeting of the project
group at the end of September at the EBU in Geneva to which all
interested parties are invited.

Sean O'Halpin
Lead Engineer, BBC R&D Internet Research and Future Services

Andy Buckingham

Sep 20, 2013, 11:56:26 AM9/20/13
I was fortunate enough to be in London at the same time as Michael and Sean today and had a chance to catch up with them regarding this new project.

As they have explained the goals of this new EBU/BBC project are broadly aligned with the discussions we had on our last RadioTAG telephone conference regarding splitting authentication from the core Tag specification and improving it in a number of weak areas. The benefits we would get from finding a common cross platform authentication model make the output of this new group extremely interesting for RadioTAG.

This does, however, provide several options for how we continue progress in the RadioTAG app team at this stage:
  1. The RadioTAG development team pause whilst we await the conclusion of the BBC/EBU CPA project. Once this has reached a natural conclusion, we reconvene and see how this impacts RadioTAG and if we should adopt it as the auth model for RadioTAG or consider other options.
  2. We nominate a representative for the RadioTAG application team to sit on the CPA project and represent the interests of all, providing regular feedback on things progress.
  3. Those interested in the CPA project also register their interest in that project and we get a reasonable consensus for RadioTAG through multiple representatives on both projects.
I'd be really keen to hear your feedback over which of the above options is preferred over the next couple of days, then we can make a call on how to progress.

Thank you.

      Robin Cooksey

      Sep 24, 2013, 11:49:49 AM9/24/13

      Hi Andy,


      I’d suggest that it’s probably worth going to option 3.  I believe that several of the people interested in RadioTAG are also interested in the CPA project – so there may well be enough natural overlap.


      Does anyone else have any other views?


      Best regards,



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      Andy Buckingham

      Oct 10, 2013, 9:49:56 AM10/10/13
      Thank you for taking the time to reply Robin.

      My personal opinion is also that option 3 is the best for the interests of the RadioTAG application team.

      To that extent I will continue with the previous plan to publish a revised RadioTAG specification in the next few weeks that is remove the authentication components and focuses purely on the tagging application. I, along with any other interested members, will monitor the EBU CPA work with close interest on how we can adopt any resultant model for usage with RadioTAG and, with careful consideration, we can amend the RadioTAG specification at a later date to signpost the relevant areas of the chosen auth spec.

      I am preparing an update for the RadioDNS steering board at the moment which I will share to this group notifying them of the groups decision.

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      Sean O'Halpin

      Oct 10, 2013, 9:51:35 AM10/10/13

      I would also welcome option 3.

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