As our daily interactions and transactions have become increasingly “wired,” we have yet to see any truly comprehensive attempts at securing online identities. But this could change in a big way. Right now the federal government is proposing a new system being referred to as the “Identity Ecosystem”—which was highlighted in the recently-released draft paper, “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” [NSTIC].
The Identity Ecosystem would allow Americans to choose to obtain a single authenticated ID for online transactions. Like a passport, this single ID could travel with them online and be used to access everything from e-mail, to online health records and banking information. Furthermore, the Identity Ecosystem would only reveal the least amount of information necessary for each transaction.
To highlight the potential consumer benefits of such a system, the White House’s proposal uses the example of an individual filling a prescription online. Under the “smart ID card,” the pharmacy would only receive proof that the individual is over 18 and that the prescription is valid. No other information like birth date or the reason for the prescription.
It’s easy to see why consumers would benefit from an easy-to-use, secure and universal system. What’s harder to understand is the overall impact on e-commerce.
Should this system be implemented, consumers must be prepared for a “new” experience and accept that convenience over security can no longer be their daily mantra.