The Obama administration is accused of creating an “identity ecosystem” on the internet that some are dubbing a national ID or “Chinese style” ID system. The process, if approved, would reportedly replace all personalized passwords on “sensitive” accounts. The so-called biometric ID card style internet user procedure has some concerned that a backdoor for government regulation and monitoring would be created and an individual’s online presence would be linked to any government services they receive.
The White House’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace plan would reportedly replace the current internet passwords process involving sensitive online accounts.
Motherboard journalist Meghan Neal said this in her report on the initiative:
“The original proposal was quick to point out that this isn’t a federally mandated national ID. But if successful, it could pave the way for an interoperable authentication protocol that works for any website, from your Facebook account to your health insurance company. A scary can of worms to open.”
According to the literature about the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace plan published in governmental documents, the scope of the initiative could ultimately be expanded into an ID card necessary to garner access to the internet, if the publications are accurate. In 2007, China pressured bloggers to register their true identities and personal data into a centralized ID system. Those vocally opposed to the proposed requirement felt the Chinese government could then use the information gathered to “punish dissenters” of the Communist government.
Declan McCullagh of CNET previously stated that the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace would essentially be the equivalent of a national ID card because such an identity would eventually be mandatory for welfare programs, filing tax returns, and the application and renewal of various licenses.
Excerpt from the National Strategy for Trusted Identities report:
“Enhancing online choice, efficiency, security, and privacy. A secure cyberspace is critical to our prosperity. We use the internet and other online environments to increase our productivity, as a platform for innovation, and as a venue in which to create new businesses. Our digital infrastructure, therefore, is a strategic national asset and protecting it is a national security priority and an economic necessity. In the current online environment, individuals are asked to maintain dozens of different usernames and passwords, one for each website they interact. The complexity of this approach is a burden to individuals, and it encouraged behavior, like the reuse of passwords, that makes online fraud and identity theft easier.”
One of the theories behind the identity ecosystem plan reportedly involved a belief that such a “secure system” would prevent data theft and other forms of hacking. Many have been quick to point out some flawed logic in the identity ecosystem report. An individual can choose a single username and password and use it everywhere online if they like, or choose to sign in with a “passport” style service like Google that offers to negate the need to memorize multiple logins.
What do you think of a national ID system for the internet? It was designed as voluntary, do you think it will stay that way?