May 16, 2022

Who Are We Online, and How Do Others Know That? The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

Who Are We Online, and How Do Others Know That? The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The Administration has released The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, a plan that identifies actions that government and the private sector can take to help anyone who uses email and websites in getting things done – including Federal leaders and managers, who can leverage the plan to implement programs online that are secure, privacy-protective, and easy-to-use.

A majority of the country, and virtually the entire Federal Government, now uses the Internet to do business, learn about programs, shop, talk to friends, and engage in a host of other activities. Some 2 billion people around the world engage in online commerce that will soon exceed $10 trillion; individuals place their information and trust in the many large and small businesses that provide services over the web. In order to operate online, both the sender and the recipient have to trust what each other is doing.

In the physical world, a shopkeeper can trust a customer to make a sale without knowing their name, while an airline needs to know a lot about a traveler in order to sell that person a ticket. How we translate these relationships to the virtual world is still evolving, but much confusion has arisen about using the Internet over the past 20 years due to the complexity of how we identify ourselves online. For example, we use passwords for many websites that are often easy for a hacker to guess, or we give more information than is necessary to do simple things electronically (like access a website for information).

Until now, Federal policy has primarily focused on how citizens and businesses interact with government programs and agencies online. But an average citizen or small business operates in the commercial world most of the time. Government-led solutions don’t translate to how people function day to day. Government policy is best when it leverages and supports activities of the broad cross-section of Americans for whom the public sector is a small part of the set of activities they engage in.

This is the stage that the Obama Administration entered when embarking on a plan to help the Nation conduct business online across government and the private sector. The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is that plan, and was released to much fanfare on Friday, April 15 at the US Chamber of Commerce. One participant of the NSTIC program with the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) at the US Department of Commerce, observed that Friday was “like Woodstock” for the Identity industry.

+ Full Document (PDF)

Source: White House (via the IBM Center for the Business of Government)