As advertised, the White House has released it's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).
Initially feared by many as a 'big brother program', the initiative may simplify our online experience by allowing us to manage our username/password for multiple sites in one convenient location, while improving security. Most of us currently use the same user name and password for multiple sites which contributes to online fraud and identity theft. We also have accounts with web sites long forgotten and therefore cannot update our credentials if we chose to do so.
In addition to consumer inconvenience, managing issues related to online fraud is expensive for businesses which result in higher consumer prices.
The new strategy, revealed today, charts a course for the public and private sectors to collaborate to raise the level of trusted associations between web sites. The NSTIC plans to promote a user-centric 'Identity Ecosystem' where individuals and organizations will be able to develop a trust by implementing agreed upon standards to obtain and authenticate digital identities from individuals and devices.
Participation in the NSTIC is voluntary.
The guiding principles of the Identity Ecosystem are as follows:
1. The White House repetitively emphasizes civil liberties (Privacy) as a guiding principle of the Identity Ecosystem. The Strategy also vows to preserve online anonymity and pseudonymity, including anonymous browsing.
2. Identity solutions must be secure and resilient.
3. Policy and technology interoperability among identity solutions. This policy should support identity portability and allow providers to accept a variety of information as credentials.
4. Cost-effective and easy to use.
The Strategy rightfully recognizes there is much work to be done and that the role of government in achieving the Identity Ecosystem is critical and must be carefully calibrated. The White House also points out government should not over-define or over-regulate the existing and growing market for identity and authentication services and that a single approach could inhibit innovation and limit private-sector opportunities.
As new legislation may be required, it looks like a long road ahead. If the Strategy is able to respect its guiding principles the Identity Ecosystem could offer dramatic improvement to our digital lives.