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US proposes online identities for Americans

April 19, 2011

The US Government has published plans to create digital identities for Americans.

The US Government wants to create a voluntary system that will allow Americans to access financial services online using one account. It hopes the new system will help protect against fraud and identity theft and reduce the barriers to trade that multiple accounts brings to businesses and consumers, the strategy said.

Under the new plans users will be able to register for access to a network of government and businesses providing data and ways to pay for things online. The Government has called this the Identity Ecosystem, the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) said.

Users could pay taxes and phone bills by entering only minimal information about themselves in the Ecosystem, such as purely their age, the NSTIC document said.

“The Identity Ecosystem will use privacy-enhancing technology and policies to inhibit the ability of service providers to link an individual’s transactions, thus ensuring that no one service provider can gain a complete picture of an individual’s life in cyberspace,” the NSTIC document said.

The Ecosystem will improve privacy protection and efficiency it said. ‘Trustmarks’ will be used to help users identify organisations that have met security standards, it said.

The US Government said that it was up to the private sector to develop technologies that make online identities secure and easy to use, safeguard transactions, and protect anonymity, but said that there are incentives for the industry to produce such a system.

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