Today a bipartisan group of House members introduced the “Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020” focused on addressing shortcomings in America’s “digital identity fabric” and creating better ways to allow Americans to securely do business online. The Better Identity Coalition applauds the work of these members, led by Congressman Bill Foster, to embrace and advance many of the key recommendations in our 2018 “Policy Blueprint” for improving digital identity in America.

“So many services – in banking, health care, government, and e-commerce – depend on knowing ‘who is on the other side’ of a transaction,” said Jeremy Grant, Coordinator of the Better Identity Coalition. “But our old identity systems have not transitioned well to the digital world – creating friction in commerce, fueling increased fraud and theft, degrading privacy, and hindering the availability of many services online. We’re thrilled to see a bipartisan group of House members come together to recognize the importance of these challenges and put forth common-sense legislation to help Americans better protect their security and privacy in the digital world.”

America remains dependent on paper and plastic-based identity credentials, none of which were designed to be easily used – or validated – online. Industry has tried to fill this “identity gap” in the online world, but a rash of breaches over the last 10 years has made clear that adversaries have caught up with the systems America has used for remote identity proofing and verification. And in 2020 – amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – the ability to offer high-value transactions and services online is being tested more than ever, due in large part to the challenges of proving identity online.

The Improving Digital Identity Act creates a comprehensive approach across federal, state and local government to address critical shortcomings in identity tools that today make it easy for criminals and fraudsters to prey on Americans, make it hard to do business online, and degrade privacy.

The bill is focused on setting a high bar for privacy and security – tasking NIST with creating a new framework of standards and tools that any new identity solutions should follow. This framework will ensure privacy and security are architected into any new solutions from the start. A new grant program will help states jumpstart modernization of systems that provide driver’s licenses or other types of identity credentials to enable digital identity verification, in accordance with the NIST framework. Taken as a whole, the bill is the first step to ensuring the United States gets up to speed with much of the developed world on digital identity.

“In this time of pandemic, when Americans are increasingly reliant on the internet for communication, commerce and companionship, the necessity of a secure digital identity is of surpassing importance. Knowing who you are dealing with across the network is a fundamental requisite of confidence and security. The House of Representatives is to be congratulated for its consideration of the issue in a bipartisan manner,” said Paul Rosenzweig, Senior Fellow, R Street Institute.

Image credit: Quardia

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