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article imageWhite House mulls idea of mandatory ID cards for Web users

By Nancy Houser     Oct 28, 2011 in Internet
The White House Cyber Security Adviser Howard Schmidt and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke have recently announced a proposal for mandatory virtual ID cards for Internet users, called the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.”
Two additional agencies had been in the running for the proposal, in addition to White House Cyber Security, all willing to prepare a comprehensive strategy meant to improve safety in cyberspace. One was the National Security Agency and the other was Department of Homeland Security.
A one-stop process for online transactions
In its current proposal standing, the proposal for a mandatory Internet ID card is meant for compulsory usage---designed to be used for all government online transactions or online business transactions that will accept it. This will make trailing a person’s online activity a one-step process as it would be centralized, with positive and negative arguments.
"We are not talking about a national ID card. We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said at an event Friday at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, according to Fox News.
FoxNews reports that the idea is causing concern to some, with Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology saying, “The government cannot create that identity infrastructure. If I tried, I wouldn’t be trusted.” In rebuttal, the White House Cyber Security Coordinator, Howard Schmidt, fully endorses the Internet ID cards as, “… ‘the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government’ to centralize efforts toward creating an ‘identity ecosystem’ for the Internet.”
Privacy and civil-liberties groups
With an early version of the Internet proposal going public on June 25, 2010, the Internet ID card for Americans is being supported by privacy and civil-liberties groups who are concerned over dual roles being played by intelligence agencies and the police departments, in addition to a mounting lack of privacy and online safety.
Others feel it is an infringement on personal privacy and their rights, which doesn’t seem to affect invading hackers, insecure connections or security threats.
A quick scope of the draft “focuses on ways to establish and maintain ‘trusted digital identities,’ a key aspect for improving the security of online transactions.” The transactions involved represent the private sector, individuals and governments---while addressing their international nature if applicable.
Facebook ID cards
As a sign of what’s to come, Facebook has just filed for “Facebook Trademark on business cards and ID cards,” a non-magnetically encoded identity card.
Similar to using Facebook to enter another website, the Facebook ID card will have an array of uses---banking, employment, citizenship, passports, census, taxation, welfare fraud, child-support, social security, and criminal identification--- with an “extremely secure and accurate computer record.”
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