U.S. Government Tests Online ID System To Replace Logins

A U.S. government plan for online IDs has rolled out in two states. The plan's aim is to increase online security, but some say it sacrifices privacy.

U.S. Government Tests Online ID System To Replace Logins
Flickr / jillianaphotography

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, or NSTIC, has begun its rollout. NSTIC is an initiative introduced in April 2011 aimed at providing greater online security, but some argue it compromises online privacy.

In a 46-page document, The White House lays out the entire NSTIC plan. In essence, individuals will prove their identity to secure ID providers. Those providers will then issue a security credential to individuals. This credential allows individuals to confirm their identity without sharing mounds of personal information. (Via National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Techdirt reports the rollout has begun in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where tests are "aimed at accessing public programs, like government assistance." (Via Google)

While it's currently focused on government use, the writer notes the strategy has a broader outlook. "The ultimate goal is a replacement of many logins and passwords ... to access content and participate in comment threads." (Via Techdirt)

Whether it'll be used for all types of logins or just government access, the rules surrounding NSTIC are a little blurry.

In the NSTIC explanation video we showed earlier, the narrator was careful to point out the opt-in nature of the program, using words and phrases like "voluntary" and "decide to participate."

But a writer for Engadget went as far as to say, "Cross your fingers and hope that NSTIC's completely voluntary."

And that's because many are worried if the Michigan and Pennsylvania tests go well, NSTIC could be used across the U.S. for government processes such as income tax filings and the like.

But not everyone is against the strategy. One security analyst told VentureBeat, "​It's easy to tell you this is a terrible idea and it's the end of the world, but it's nice to see someone finally trying to implement this idea."  

The analyst argues it takes a powerful entity like the government to implement these wide-sweeping strategies. With benefits and downfalls on both sides of the argument, we're curious what you think. Does an online ID sound like a good idea to you?