The Obama administration and US Government and have approved investing $56 million towards creating an environment where a single identity or set of credentials could be used for all of a person’s banking and financial transactions conducted online. This effort is an attempt to raise the level of trust of online identity and reduce cybercrime, online fraud, and identity theft.
The administration plans to take a supporting role and let the private sector build and manage the network. The plan is officially called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).
The vision of the NSTIC is: Individuals and organizations utilize secure, efficient, easy-to-use, and interoperable identity solutions to access online services in a manner that promotes confidence, privacy, choice, and innovation. The full plan can be found here.
The challenge will be to make this ID convenient and secure, while ensuring there is still privacy and anonymity for people on the Internet. This identity ecosystem or framework is predicted to take many years to develop and will definitely require the cooperation of both public and private sectors for funding and interoperability.
How do people feel about a national identity system? According to a survey conducted on April 18-19, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports, 60% of adults oppose it, 27% are unsure, and only 13% were in favor. Three out of four people (76%) said they were not willing to submit their personal financial and purchasing information to receive a government credential for online transactions. It would appear that this government program is well intended, but will face resistance due to the “big brother” sentiment, or because it feels like a glimpse of “Skynet” for people who have seen the Terminator movies.
It will be interesting to see how the NSTIC initiative plays out over the next few years. In the mean time, private sector giants including Microsoft, Google, Facebook’s Connect, and others gladly offer to pass your credentials to other accounts for sign-in. Did you know that many people have had their Facebook account hacked, but didn’t know until somebody wrote something on their wall! This could be really embarrassing, but at least it’s easy to find and fix. Can you imagine trying to find out what your ‘Identity’ did on many thousands of sites that accept Facebook Connect – on sites you’ve never even been to?
Keep an eye out for additional posts on the Government ID and online Identity topic. Clareity Security’s team will keep watching these developments and share our thoughts with you.
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