After news that the Obama administration announced a new National Internet ID initiative, the general Internet quickly rallied against it. The name itself sounds sort of like something handed down by a Communist regime, but the administration has been quick to point out that the implication of such a strategy would in no way begin a slippery slope of regulation and big brother-esque monitoring. In fact, its purpose is not to monitor online activity — its purpose is to aid US consumers in creating a central identity for use on the Internet. But what exactly would this accomplish?
When it comes to worrying about online security, your opinions are split. But given the recent popularity of online privacy in the news from companies like Google and Facebook, it's possible the government could come up with a plausible solution.The initiative is aimed at increasing cybersecurity and gives authority to the U.S. Commerce Department — not the Department of Homeland Security or the National Security Agency, reinforcing that this security measure is aimed to protect US consumers and is not considered a national security measure or tracking system of any kind. Find out what you should expect, and when to expect it, after the break.
What is it, exactly?
The National Internet ID is "not a national ID card," according to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. It's an enhancement to "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." There aren't many additional details, so exactly how this would work is still unclear. Those involved will say, however, that Internet anonymity will still be preserved. And given that online passwords in their current state are at risk of being cracked, this may not be such a bad idea.
When should we expect it?
The administration is drafting the measure now, and Americans should expect to see an initial version of it in the next few months.
What does it mean?
Since details are still somewhat unclear, it's hard to say exactly what we should expect from its implication. On a basic level, consumers participating in the program should expect access to one central online identity. Who else — if anyone — would have access to the information is unknown. And given the pressure that the government has already put on sites like Facebook in regard to sketchy or unclear privacy practices, one has to hope that it'd be equally diligent about protecting our online privacy should such a policy see the light of day.