Well, whether you did or not, President Obama’s “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which the administration is currently writing, … will create a program to provide and administer an allegedly voluntary interoperable verified online IDs [sic].”, according to a New York Times article titled “Obama’s Internet Plan Sounds an Awful Lot Like a National Internet ID” by Curt Hopkins of ReadWriteWeb published January 10, 2011.
Hopkins writes; “An early draft makes the case for such an ID.
“(A) secure cyberspace is critical to the health of our economy and to the security of our Nation. In particular, the Federal Government must address the recent and alarming rise in online fraud, identity theft, and misuse of information online. One key step in reducing online fraud and identity theft is to increase the level of trust associated with identities in cyberspace. While this Strategy recognizes the value of anonymity for many online transactions (e.g., blog postings), for other types of transactions (e.g., online banking or accessing electronic health records) it is important that the parties to that transaction have a high degree of trust that they are interacting with known entities.”
Although, “According to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, as reported by CNET:
“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.”
But Hopkins contends that “We are talking about a government-controlled system. That is exactly what we are talking about. In fact, the presentation of what few facts exist is vague enough as to be good for nothing but worry.
Here are the few facts on the program that are available.
1. The government will enable the creation of verified identities
2. The government will create an “Identity Ecosystem”
3. Getting a verified identity will be elective
4. Verizon, Google, PayPal, Symantec and AT&T support the program
5. A user would be able to use one login to sign in to all of their sites”
Hopkins furthers his argument by explaining the “Identity Ecosystem” sounds strangely like the national intranet the Chinese government has been working on, as an alternative to the Internet as a whole, and more controllable.
“The Identity Ecosystem is the embodiment of the vision. It is an online environment where individuals, organizations, services, and devices can trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities.”
Hopkins states that “We write frequently here [ReadWriteWeb] about Facebook’s efforts to become the source of a universal verified online ID system, but a campaign by the US government to do something similar is another matter. It would be niave [sic] to assume that either party is motivated by nothing more than convenience on the part of users.”
WOW! Can we imagine where this new government control system will stop? First it’s just for banking and other “secure” transactions to protect everyone from fraud and ID theft. OK, let’s say we buy into that. How long before the “supporters”, Verizon, Google, PayPal, Symantec and AT&T right now, decide they should extend that to ALL Internet transactions? How long before every Internet transaction by every individual requires an Internet ID? Who makes that decision?
OK, so let’s take the less paranoid approach. What are the criteria for obtaining an Internet ID? What kind of information would a person have to divulge? Who decides when it must be used and for what type transaction? Those issues alone are pretty controlling and intrusive sounding.
Hopkins is not a librarian, so he can’t imagine the impact of such a system on “free access” to information that libraries so diligently protect. Will this toll the end of “free access” on library computers? Will libraries be required to enforce such an Internet ID system in some way? Will this require some new type of “filtering” system on library computers?
“Orwellian-sounding” indeed! Your public access computers can soon have a new welcome screen statement that reads ……….
“To gain access to the Internet, input your 25 digit National Trusted Identity number.”