By: Justin Katz
Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) today said he will likely reintroduce legislation that aims to overhaul the country’s fragmentary personal digital identification systems.
Foster previously introduced the “Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020” with Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) in September. He announced his intention to bring up the bill in the 117th Congress at a Feb. 4 event on digital identity hosted by the Better Identity Coalition, the FIDO Alliance and the ID Theft Resource Center.
“So much of peoples’ daily lives are spent conducting business online – whether it’s banking, investing, shopping, or even communicating with doctors,” Foster said of the bill at the time. “It’s become vitally important to ramp up safeguards to protect against identity theft and fraud, so that both consumers and businesses can have confidence in online transactions and the peace-of-mind of protecting sensitive information.”
The legislation establishes a task force of federal, state and local officials to develop a new “standards-based architecture” for digital identity verification as well as determine if it is plausible for government agencies to provide identification services to private sector entities through a fee-based model.
It also creates a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security to allow states to upgrade systems used for driver’s licenses and other credentials using a framework developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The bill describes federal and state governments as well-positioned to play a more extensive role in helping public and private sector entities with digital identification given the government’s existing role in issuing driver’s licenses and other credentials.
It should be the government’s policy to use its authorities and capabilities “to enhance the security, reliability, privacy and convenience of digital identity solutions,” according to the legislation.
Lawmakers would also direct the Government Accountability Office to consider the effectiveness of social security numbers as a means of identification and recommend an alternative system.
Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) also backed the legislation in September.
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