White House seeks comment on trusted ID plan

The goal of the online ID system would be to make transactions more secure and convenient

The White House is seeking comment on a draft plan for establishing a trusted identity system online, with the goal of making Internet transactions more secure and convenient.

Howard Schmidt, the White House cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant to President Barack Obama, released a draft version of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace on Friday.

The plan calls for the U.S. government to work with private companies to create an Identity Ecosystem, an online environment "where individuals, organizations, services, and devices can trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities."

The Identity Ecosystem would allow Internet users to complete transactions with confidence, Schmidt said in a blog post on WhiteHouse.gov.

"No longer should individuals have to remember an ever-expanding and potentially insecure list of usernames and passwords to login into various online services," he wrote. "Through the strategy we seek to enable a future where individuals can voluntarily choose to obtain a secure, interoperable, and privacy-enhancing credential ... from a variety of service providers -- both public and private -- to authenticate themselves online for different types of transactions."

The White House is seeking comments on the draft plan on a Web page at ideascale.com. A handful of people had already commented on the plan by Friday afternoon.

One person suggested the White House take advantage of existing open-source trusted ID efforts, including OpenID.

Schmidt's office developed the draft of the trusted ID plan by working with other government agencies, business leaders and privacy advocates, he said. A second poster called on the government to "leave privacy to the private sector."

"The current executive has been smothering the privacy and liberty of Americans even more than his predecessor, and evading criticism by employing secrecy and rainbows," that poster wrote. "Americans should not trust the federal government to have any goal other than the expansion of federal power."

A third poster suggested that "you all go get a real job at McDonalds."

The trusted ID plan is part of the Obama administrations Cyberspace Policy Review, released in May 2009.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantusG. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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