Twitter offers telephone number as ID

Following news that online service providers were being encouraged to find an alternative to vulnerable passwords that can be stolen by cyber criminals, Twitter introduced ‘Digits' a new service which enables users to replace passwords, using their mobile number as an identifier.

Twitter reported phone numbers as the primary identity for mobile users, and the idea for Digits was to boost user numbers, as many potential users in developing countries lack an email address, but have access to mobile phones.

Digits is a feature of Twitter's new mobile development platform: ‘Fabric', aiming to give developers a toolkit for creating apps that can merge with Twitter. A report in the Wall Street Journal said: “In exchange for the free tools, developers may be more willing to give Twitter a spot somewhere within their apps, quietly allowing the company to expand its advertising presence across the two million apps that populate the stores run by Apple and Google.”

Twitter chief executive, Dick Costolo, told developers: “This is a new native mobile sign-up service that makes mobile-first sign-up frictionless, and creates an identity relationship entirely between you and your users. We power it – we make it easy for you to communicate with your users – but that identity relationship is between you and them, not some third party. We power it and then we get out of the way,”

 “The reality is that there's no such thing as a strong password – static passwords all carry the risk of being hacked. OTP technology is the strongest protection for users. It can generate highly secure one-time passwords to authenticate users, meaning they will only have to remember a PIN number in order to retrieve a new password. OTP authentication products will allow the social media platform to ensure that only the authorised user has access to their account, and therefore, are not at risk of a hacker paying for services through it,” says Jason Hart, VP Cloud Solutions at SafeNet.

In a press statement about Digits, Marie Austenaa, vice president and head of the Personal Data & Mobile Identity programme at GSMA commented : “Users are becoming wary of using social login mechanisms for accessing services and apps.  There is a growing mistrust as a result of the ambiguity and lack of transparency into exactly how their information is being shared. Twitter's new solution taps into the security and convenience mobile devices provide, further demonstrating the diverse applications and benefits of mobile in protecting our identities. Providing an alternative sign-in option and enabling consumers to regulate what, how and when they share information with any given company gives them back an element of control in an age where the monetisation of customer data has unfortunately become the norm”.

Fabric will be available in 216 countries and 18 languages. Digits is initially available in only 191 countries and in 28 languages.

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