U.S. Government to Step in and Help End Online Identity Fraud

With so much cybercrime and identity fraud going on thanks to Internet malware and maliciousness, the U.S. government is eyeing a way to create unified online identities available for all web users. But don’t panic just yet, the purpose of this verified identity isn’t to track users’ surfing habits, but to cut down on identity theft and fraudulent online purchases.

Thought up by the Obama administration, the web identity program, or National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, as it is officially named, will be created and managed by a private company rather than a government agency, and will be similar in concept to PayPal. The idea behind it is that users will voluntarily sign up for it and it will make ensuring and protecting their identity much easier.

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “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.”

A major point that is stressed is that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible if the user wants it, as there is no requirement that anyone has to sign up. Instead, it is just an option for added security in the same way PayPal is an optional way of making online purchases without having to expose credit card numbers to the seller.

The actual process or key for verification of the user’s identity hasn’t been decided upon. What must be taken into consideration is the fact that users will want to log in from many different locations and not be limited to a single computer. There were talks of using smart cards or digital certificates for verification, but the actual “key” is still in the development stage.

The only thing we can do for now is wait and see what will happen. Personally, I think this could be great if it turns out successful,  because users won’t be required to remember multiple different passwords, and it will be much harder for scammers or hackers to try to commit fraud or identity theft.

(Via CBS News) / (Image by matsuyuki, licensed under Creative Commons)

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