The Obama administration is in the process of developing a “new system for authenticating people, organizations and infrastructure on the Web” according to a recent article in Information Week. The hope is to develop a comprehensive process supposedly to enhance protection for individuals that use the Internet. A draft of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace was released this past week and intoduced by White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt, while making a presentation at the Symantec Government Symposium 2010 in Washington D.C. this week. If established, the system would lallow citizens to create trusted identities that would be used for all online transactions.
This is not the first time political figures have advanced directives related to cybersecurity technology in reference to nationalized identification. Earlier this year, two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), met with President Obama to advocate for a biometric national ID card that would house fingerprint and retinal scan data of individuals. Schumer and Graham suggested that the cards would “ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs” and also “dramatically decrease illegal immigration.” A similar national ID plan was attempted under the Bush Administration which even included an “encrypted electronic strip.”
It will be difficult for the proposed legilsation to pass given concerns regarding privacy, because collecting biometric information from hundreds of millions of Americans under the guise of volunteering for online identification, would serve no real purpose since it would have nothing to do with safety or security.
The Obama plan raises concern since it provides conspiracy theorist and republicans under the influence of the Tea Party with the ammunition to continue to bash him. Add to that his issues with the gulf oil spill, his challenges with immigration and the inability to pass significant financial reform legislation, and one might think that maybe he should direct his focus to public activities over private ones.