One evening I was looking for some information on the National Institute for Standards website (www.nist.gov) when something on the sidebar caught my eye and it was an announcement about “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” at http://www.nist.gov/nstic/. Being the techie that I am I was curiously drawn to it as I remember a previous announcement Jan 7, 2011 on CNet about establishing an Internet identity system (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20027800-281.html.)
We’ve heard all the stories before about people getting their identities stolen through hackers, phishing, and workers within financial institutions illegally selling customers’ confidential information. This is the premise for President Obama’s proposed Internet Identity Ecosystem.
How does this affect you? Imagine this. Your child gets issued a smart card from their school. This smart card has all of your personal information on it and your child’s personal information, plus their school records. You can plug the card into a reader on your computer and access your child’s records online by sending verification data from the card to a centralized network to verify it’s “you,” and then to your child’s school to access the records.
This card is issued only to you. According to the proposed Internet Identity Ecosystem (National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, pg 5), there will be no need to remember many different login passwords on the websites you like to visit. The issuer of the card could be from either an office of the government or a private issuing company (“standardized reliable credentials and identity media…in use in both public and private sectors,” National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, pg 13) has verified your identity so whenever you plug in the card, participating vendors will read the card and recognize that it’s “you.” No more painful memorizing a password for every site you interact with.
The card can also be tied into your banking records so it’ll work just like a credit or debit card. No more carrying around several kinds of credit or debit cards so you can use it for online shopping or public shopping. At participating businesses, your transaction remains anonymous to the business, but the transaction is recognized as having come from “you” as it goes around the network from the business to the government or private identity issuer network to your bank or credit card account.
Better yet, the card can be tied into other records instantly verifying your job occupation. It could be used to store or access your employment history, criminal history, and the Social Security Administration to ensure you are who you say you are on your job application. The card will contain and could be constantly updating your job information and criminal background as it communicates with the network. In an “Envision it” box contained within Obama’s proposal statement is an account of what if there was a “national emergency event” and you’re a doctor. You as the doctor could log into a federal network tracking the event and receive directions on what side of town you should go to in order to better serve the victims (7. Envision It!, National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, pg 19).
The network for all of this is based on the government’s current identity security network called the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management, or FICAM (National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, pg 6). The network is set up so that issuers grant a smart chipped card holder access to approved parts of the database system. Similarly, everything tied into the issued smart chip will be tied into databases about you and all your personal information will flow through it. Page 3 of the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management Roadmap and Implementation Guidance documents has a neat diagram of the FICAM network and presumptuously the Internet Identity Ecosystem network will be similarly structured.
This is all being done in the name of convenience and security. With this smart chip embedded on a card or even installed in your cell phone, you can conveniently access all of your information, your child’s information, and the information other people allow you to see from anywhere you want when you want; your identity has been verified and you can buy things from any website or brick and mortar company with this card.
What’s more alarming to me is the massive amount of data about me that could be going through this set up network. Everything you buy and sell; all your medical records, job history, criminal history, and personal identifying information will be running through a newly created centralized network. Some of it could reside within private data networks if you use a private identity verifying network, but what’s to keep the government from requiring your transaction records from being sent to them? The government already requires Internet search engines to retain search history by IP address and give them that information upon request. The question is what will they be doing with all of that data? They’re bound to store it in a database somewhere.
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what the federal government plans to do with all this information but remember this: police states are always curious about what its slaves are doing.
For further reading:
To see all documents grouped in one spot go to: www.scribd.com/Peptum72
About the Author:
David Blair is a researcher and information technology specialist configuring network router line cards for Cisco customers. These documents can be viewed grouped together here: www.scribd.com/Peptum72
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