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Internet ID: Cyber-Security Czar Defends Government Role

“It’s not an Internet driver’s license, it’s not a national ID card – it’s an alternative” to the current system, which often involves repetitively providing information to third parties that is then often hijacked by cyber-criminals. Mr. Schmidt made these remarks during a discussion with two industry cybersecurity experts — Mr. Schneier, and Microsoft executive Scott Charney. Mr. Schneier was generally supportive of NSTIC, noting that “it makes a lot of sense for the government to have some ID for government things,” such as access to Medicare or IRS records. But “the danger is you go from inertia, from doing nothing, to doing way, way too much.” One example of such over-reaching, he said, would be an expansion of current rules requiring telephone companies to make their telephone switches “eavesdropping-ready” by forcing to online service providers like Google and Skype to do the same. Mr. Charney of Microsoft also expressed support for NSTIC, but noted that “being crisp about what the proposal is and what it isn’t, is really important.” Both industry representatives were adamant that the best role for the federal government to play in this arena was to use its buying power to create demand that would then filter down to the general public. Mr. Schneier argued that, “if there’s a government ID for government services, it may migrate to the private sector.”

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