Will A Standardized System For Verifying Web Identity Ever Catch On? CNN

Feb 26th, 2012 Identity Management

On Feb. 15th, 2012, Mark Milian reported for CNN on web identity management.  Noting the weakness inherent to passwords, Milian mentioned one of our favorite identity management proposals: NSTIC (National Strategy for Trusted Indentities in Cyberspace). 

Again, the idea behind NSTIC is that people can choose an entity (perhaps a company like Google, or Paypal) that handles their identity credentials.  You would no longer log-in to websites using a password; rather, you would rely on these identity credential providers to provide you with a much safer way of proving digital identity.  The aim is to create a more secure "identity ecosystem" for online transactions.

The Obama administration introduced the NSTIC initiative in the spring of 2011, and this blog has followed it pretty closely.  However, you might have noticed a slowdown in NSTIC news.  According to the CNN article, there's a good reason why: "[NSTIC] seems to be moving at the speed of Washington, not Silicon Valley. Almost a year later, there's no consensus among Web companies and government about what exactly this should look like and when we should expect to see it."

Of course, some websites have already embraced a similar concept to NSTIC.  You've probably noticed that you can log into certain websites (without registering) using your Gmail account.  I can log into this blogging service using my Facebook account.  NSTIC is a similar idea, just on a much broader scale.  However, the article explained that Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook (the internet's big boys) still don't follow this model.  Why the hesitancy?  The CNN article cited Don Thibeau, the executive chairman for the OpenID foundation, who said that companies see their different platforms as a competitive advantage. 

Moreover, there's been some public pushback against NSTIC.  Some people have been spooked by the idea of a government driven "online driver's license" and the associated privacy concerns.  Some people have questioned the program's feasibility; getting every internet user to sign up for identity credentials could be "the work of herding cats." 

The CNN article cited Jeremy Grant, senior executive at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (the people now running the NSTIC pilot) as saying that in order to allay these concerns, NSTIC must keep Internet anonymity intact and be driven by private companies.  

Most importantly, NSTIC has been on funding life-support.  The proposal survived a recent round of budget-cutting, and is looking to enter into a pilot program phase.  However, NSTIC's future remains uncertain.  

According to the article, NSTIC pilot programs should begin this summer.  At that point, we'll get a better idea what the identity ecosystem might look like.

You can find the CNN source article here.

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For more on the NSTIC pilot programs, check out this FierceGovernmentIT article by Molly Bernhart Walker . . .

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Authors

Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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