The White House proposed a plan, today, that would create a single, secure online identification system. The proposal, titled National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), aims to make online transactions more trustworthy.
"By making online transactions more trustworthy and better protecting privacy, we will prevent costly crime, we will give businesses and consumers new confidence, and we will foster growth and untold innovation," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "That's why this initiative is so important for our economy."
So what does this mean in real life? What's envisioned by the White House is an end to passwords, a system in which a consumer will have a piece of software on a smartsphone or some kind of card or token, which they can swipe on their computers to log on to a website. The White House adds:
Instead of having to remember dozens of passwords, the consumer can use their single credential to log into any website, with more security than passwords alone provide. Since consumers will be able to choose among a diverse market of different providers of credentials, there will be no single, centralized database of information. Consumers can use their credential to prove their identity when they're carrying out sensitive transactions, like banking, and can stay anonymous when they are not.
PC World points out that this is not an attempt to push a national ID card, instead its a reaction to how insecure passwords have proven to be:
In spite of years (and years) of security experts repeating the mantra to use more secure passwords, and trying to educate users on stronger password security, it has been revealed time and time again that passwords are still one of the weakest links in the chain. The Rockyou password breach in 2009, and the Gawker breach a year later both illustrate just how pervasive weak passwords remain.
Bloomberg reports the government will play a supporting role by setting out parameters the private industry should follow. The Commerce Department, reports Bloomberg, has also set aside $24.5 million toward the development of the "Identity Ecosystem."