The Obama Administration has announced plans for a unique personal ID for the Internet.Think that sounds vague? That’s because it is.
In fact, it sounds terribly reminiscent of every big project that never ends (whether sponsored by the government or someone else).
Here’s what we can tell about it from various reports:
- It’s going to be led by the Commerce Department, not the NSA or Homeland Security, which were candidates. This is good, because national ID + internet + NSA sounds pretty big brother-ish to us.
- The goal is to not let you have to remember dozens of passwords for all the sites you use. How are they going to do that? Well, that’s where it gets vague.
- This is not at all like a National ID card! There’s not going to be a unique ID for every American.
- It’s not going to compromise anonymity online. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to.
- It’s going to be led by the private sector, not the government. The big security/IT companies with the right Washington connections to get this gig don’t reassure us any more than the government does.
- The ID might take the form of a “smart card” or something else like that, that would have a code that you would enter to websites or that would authenticate you somehow, the UK’s Daily Mail says. But no guarantees on that score.
Honestly, we don’t know what to make of this. Creating a single sign-on for the internet has been attempted by pretty much every single big company (remember Microsoft Passport in the late 90s?), but it just doesn’t work and hasn’t. The only one that’s close is Facebook.
Somehow we really don’t see a coalition of the Commerce Department and big IT companies succeeding where Microsoft and Google at their heyday utterly failed.