Proposed Digital Identity Law seeks to Modernize USA’s Lagging Digital Identity Infrastructure

On September 11, Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL),  John Katko (R-NY), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) introduced the bipartisan Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020. The proposed law is envisioned as a way to create a national standards framework and unified database for verifying consumer identities in digital channels. In particular, the bill calls for the establishment of a task force to bring together key federal agencies with state and local government representatives to develop secure methods for government agencies to validate identity attributes. The goal is to protect the privacy and security of individuals and support reliable, interoperable digital tools in the public and private sectors.

The goal is to protect the privacy and security of individuals and support reliable, interoperable digital identity verification tools in the public and private sectors.

The Act would further direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a new framework of standards to guide government agencies when providing digital identity verification services – placing an emphasis on privacy and security. And, under the law, there would be a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security to allow states to upgrade the systems they use to issue drivers’ licenses and other types of identity credentials.

The legislation comes at a critical time. COVID-19 has forced Americans to rely on digital platforms for everything from their banking, to healthcare, to accessing government programs, which puts their PII at greater risk of being stolen.

The legislation comes at a critical time. COVID-19 has forced Americans to rely on digital platforms for everything from their banking, to healthcare, to accessing government programs, which puts their PII at greater risk of being stolen.  As Congressman Foster put it, “This bill is a much needed first step to ensuring the United States catches up with the developed world on digital identity. Congressman Loudermilk similarly noted, “COVID-19 has caused a lot of change in the way Americans live, work, and provide for our families, and we have become even more reliant on digital commerce platforms. But with more Americans going online to purchase basic life necessities, this also means more Americans’ personally identifiable information [PII] is at risk of being stolen

“For far too long the United States has lacked a comprehensive digital ID strategy.” – Michael Magrath, Director, Global Regulations & Standards at OneSpan

Cybersecurity industry reaction has been positive. According to Michael Magrath, Director, Global Regulations & Standards at OneSpan, an anti-fraud and digital identity solutions provider, “The Improving Digital Identities Act is an exciting piece of legislation. For far too long the United States has lacked a comprehensive digital ID strategy. With skyrocketing rates of identity theft and fraud occurring in digital channels, and billions of consumer credentials and PII exposed on the Dark Web, businesses and government agencies need better methods for verifying consumers’ identities during online transactions.” He then added, “The Improving Digital Identity Act will do just that, by creating a governmentwide approach to developing secure and interoperable methods for digital identity verification in both the public and private sectors.”

 

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