The U.S. federal government has announced a new program focused on developing a “trusted identity in cyberspace” – a way to authenticate Internet users’ identities, with the Commerce Department tasked with nurturing the development of an ecosystem for the use of such technologies. According to officials, the IDs would not be mandatory and would be issued by private companies, not by the government. It will also be possible to use pseudonyms to preserve privacy.
Not everyone is thrilled with the idea, with some privacy advocates skeptical about the government’s promises that this will not lead to a giant centralized database that collects personal information about citizens. And some security experts question how a program that’s optional and allows for anonymity will really solve any of the problems that such a program would be expected to solve. I’m sure we can look forward to much debate in the coming months (or years) as the program is developed, and it will be interesting to see how conflicting interests play out.