The Potential behind the White House’s Digital ID Plan
Parents, I’m crossing my fingers that this Internet safety plan by the White House receives the support that it deserves. White House Cybersecurity officials are calling it the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, and what it’s aimed to do is set up a system that would allow people to voluntarily create trusted identities to use in online transactions.
Now, “online transactions” isn’t really what Yoursphere is about, that said, the reason I’m excited about this plan is because of the potential that it has. First let me summarize, and then elaborate on said potential:
The White House Cybersecurity chief, Howard Schmidt, described the goal of the plan as: securing and protecting transactions in cyberspace through use of a special ID, essentially a smart card or digital certificate. This ID would prove to the online vendor, whoever that may be, that people are who they say they are, thus creating a secure and trusted financial transaction.
Schmidt went on to discuss specific benefits of these IDs such as eliminating, or reducing, the need for multiple usernames and passwords on several online profiles. Wouldn’t it great to not have to remember a dozen passwords? Nevertheless, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security started asking for the public’s feedback on a website they created, all kinds of people chimed in to say whether they supported or opposed the plan.
“Decentralize further, don’t centralize!”
“There is no possible trust when computers are compromised!”
“Make laws, not products!”
These were just a few of the opinions by the public, which takes me to my opinion on the matter. First let me say that I don’t see this plan coming to fully-functional-loophole-free fruition for a few years, but I do see this plan as a step in the right direction by the United States government. The reason this plan resonates with me so much is because it’s very similar to what I’m trying to do with Yoursphere—create real world boundaries in an online world, and the first step to doing that is verifying identities.
In the broad scope of things, these ID cards would be able to restrict or allow user access into any given website. More importantly, with an ID card system like this, anonymity would seize to exist online, assuming, of course, that all loopholes are taken care of before the system is implemented on a large scale. And parents, I don’t have to even say it, you already know that anonymity is a big reason why we’re seeing a lot of the problems that we’re seeing online with cyberbullying, sextortion, and identity theft issues—just to name a few.
Despite the arguments that this plan will only allow the government to have further access to our records, etc., this doesn’t have to be a government based program. We don’t want to ask the Federal government to create a national registry for commercial use. We want commercial organizations to create trusted registries of identities for citizens to use. There are many legitimate reasons for citizens to rely on trusted third parties to verify their data so that legitimate enterprises, businesses and governments can verify who we are. Just as we do with the banking industry, we trust these institutions to care for our financial assets. We can do the same with our identities.