The administration wants people to have digital credentials that could be stored in something like an app or on a USB thumb drive. Plenty of businesses already require employees to use these sorts of tools to log on to secure email accounts, for example. The administration wants these to be standardized so ordinary people can use them across the Web.
Using such a system “we will prevent costly crime, we will give businesses and consumers new confidence, and we will foster growth and untold innovation,” President Obama said in a statement.
The idea of an Internet log-on that could serve as a national ID and involves the government clearly freaks people out. So the administration is taking pains to emphasize that it simply wants bring businesses together to create this system. The IDs, it says, will be provided by private industry, and the Commerce Department gave examples of companies like PayPal and Microsoft that support the efforts.
The administration launched today’s plan — called the National Strategy on Trusted Identities in Cyberspace — at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and it changed the wording of its plan to make it clearer that it wants the private sector to handle these IDs.
A federal agency called the National Institute of Standards and Technology would help come up with standards for companies that want to make and sell these IDs. (That agency already does a bunch of geeky things, like housing the atomic clock that provides the nation’s standard time.) The agency could provide a “seal of approval” for IDs that met certain standards...
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