White House Drafts Cyberspace Safety Strategy

(Ping! Zine) – Last friday. the White House releases a draft of the new National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace in hopes of coming up with a strategy to protect people in cyberspace.

The White House is seeking for people to volunteer by creating a system that would allow people to create trusted identities to use in online transactions.

White House cybersecurity chief Howard Schmidt said it is his goal to secure and protect transactions in cyberspace through use of a special ID–a smart card or digital certificate–that would prove that people are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recently launched a Web site to elicit ideas and feedback from the public. The government plans to collect comments at the site through July 19 before promising to finalize its strategy later this fall.

The initial draft of the NSTIC was created with input from key government agencies, business leaders, and privacy advocates in response to one of the action items in President Obama’s Cyberspace Policy Review, according to Schmidt. With online consumers and companies grappling with fraud and identity theft, the administration wants an “identity ecosystem” in which people can feel more safe and secure, as they conduct business over the Internet.

In discussing the NSTIC’s digital-ID initiative, Schmidt outlined a number of specific benefits. A smart identity card would eliminate–or at least reduce–the need to juggle a multitude of usernames and passwords for each online service. Such an ID system would also let individuals choose and control how much private information they wished to reveal to authenticate themselves online.

The use of identity cards both online and offline has has been proposed and debated for several years. Such cards have started to find a niche in Europe, but the U.S. response has been cautious. Proponents have advocated the digital IDs as a way to better protect our identities, but opponents fear that such efforts would make it easier for governments to keep a close eye on citizens.