No more passwords? Obama considers Internet ID for Americans in bid to boost web security
By David Gardner
Last updated at 9:14 PM on 9th January 2011
President Obama is spearheading a plan to boost web security by issuing American computer users with an Internet ID.
The President has put the U.S. Commerce Department in charge of the cybersecurity initiative.
The Obama administration is drafting a paper called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities, which investigates ways that web users can protect their online identities.
But Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was quick to reassure people that it wasn’t a guise for more big brother government.
‘We are not talking about a national ID card,’ he said at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
‘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 memorise a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities,’ he added.
He said the Commerce Department is setting up a national programme to work on the project.
Possible methods of creating a ‘trusted identity’ could include issuing a ‘smart card’ or digital certificates that would prove that online users are who they say they are. They could then be used to buy goods and carry out financial transactions on the Internet.
White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said the move does not mean that anonymity will be compromised.
‘I don’t have to get a credential if I don’t want to,’ he said.
There’s no chance that ‘a centralised database will emerge,’ and ‘we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this,’ he added, according to CNET website.
The decision to put the Commerce Secretary in charge of the issue has reportedly left noses out of joint at the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
But it is likely to please privacy and civil liberties groups that have raised concerns over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies. (is this true?)