At a January 7, 2011 forum with Silicon Valley business and academic leaders at Stanford University, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt announced plans to create a National Program Office to help foster an environment in which sensitive online transactions can be carried out with greater levels of trust.
To be established within the Department of Commerce, with support from agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the National Program Office would coordinate federal activities needed to implement the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), an Obama administration initiative aimed at establishing identity solutions and privacy-enhancing technologies intended to make the online environment more secure and convenient. The national office would serve as the point of contact to bring the public and private sectors together to meet this challenge.
The NSTIC strategy does not call for a single, government-required Internet ID. Instead it would rely on multiple, voluntary, identity providers—both private and public—and interoperable digital credentials that are based on agreed-upon standards for security and privacy. Such a marketplace-driven solution, among other advantages, would ensure that there is no single credential or centralized database. If people chose to opt into such a solution, they would continue to have the ability to communicate anonymously online, but still have secure authentication for business and sensitive on-line transactions.
A web site on NSTIC, including a frequently asked questions section and a webcast of the Jan. 7 forum, can be found at http://www.nist.gov/nstic. Read the Commerce Department's Jan. 7 news release, "U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt Announce Next Steps to Enhance Online Security, Planned National Office for Identity Trust Strategy." More information and materials on the strategy will become available over the coming months.