January 12, 2011, 1:43 PM — The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has established a new Web site fleshing out the Obama Administration's plans for a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).
The Web site appears designed to provide additional information on the government's unfolding strategy, as well as to downplay any concerns some might harbor about NSTIC resulting in the creation of a national ID card.
The site's launch comes just days after Obama Administration officials announced the creation of a new national program office within the U.S. Department of Commerce for handling the NSTIC.
The program office will work with federal agencies and with the private sector to identify and develop new standards and to foster collaborative efforts for implementing the NSTIC.
The NSTIC stems from a government-wide cybersecurity review commissioned by the administration soon after it took office. The review resulted in several recommendations to secure cyberspace, including one that called for stronger security and privacy controls for securing online transactions and interactions.
Under the NSTIC, the government will work with the private sector to foster the development and implementation of technologies, standards and policies for better authenticating individuals, organizations, and the underlying infrastructure involved in online transactions.
The goal of the effort is to ensure the creation of an "Identity Ecosystem" in which Internet users and organizations can more completely trust each others' identities and systems, when carrying out online transactions.
When fully implemented, the new identity infrastructure will allow Internet users the option of obtaining trusted online credentials from a range of service providers and government entities. The credentials could then be used in a variety of transactions such as for banking and e-commerce.
In statements accompanying the announcement of the new program office last week, Commerce Department secretary Gary Locke stressed how the new initiative will not somehow result in the creation of a single national identity credential or centralized database. He also noted how use of the trusted online infrastructure will be purely voluntary and optional for Internet users.
A FAQ posted on the new NIST Web site also sought to alleviate any concerns Internet users and privacy advocates might potentially have about the effort.