The administration is putting the final touches on its National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which is intended to lay the foundation for a digital ecosystem to better manage online identities, but it could face an uphill battle in public adoption.
Schemes for strong authentication have come and gone over the last 20 years, from the ill-fated Clipper Chip to digital signatures, because there has been no consumer demand for them, said James Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ technology and public policy program.
“How do you get people to buy what they don’t want?” Lewis asked Thursday during a conference on ID management hosted by the Digital Government Institute. “There is no demand for better identity.”
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The technology exists to provide strong online authentication, said both Lewis and Homeland Security Department CIO Richard Spires. The trick is to make it scalable, interoperable and easy to use. The public has generally resisted authentication technology more complex than user names and passwords, except when it is required.