Federalized security screening at airports has been such a success that President Obama wants to apply the same government “expertise” to the realm of online commerce and commentary. The White House cybersecurity adviser joined Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Jan. 7 to announce what amounts to a national ID card for the Internet.
Their plan is straightforward. Instead of logging onto Facebook or one’s bank using separate passwords established with each individual company or website, the White House will take the lead in developing what it calls an “identity ecosystem” that will centralize personal information and credentials. This government-approved system would issue a smart card or similar device that would confirm an individual’s identity when making online credit-card purchases, accessing electronic health care records, posting “anonymous” blog entries or even logging onto one’s own home computer, according to administration documents.
Officials insist this would be a voluntary program and deliver significant benefits to the public. Mr. Locke explained last week that “robust identity solutions can substantially enhance the trustworthiness of online transactions. They can not only improve security, but, if done properly, can enhance privacy as well.”