Obama admin to unveil secure online ID strategy Friday

The Obama administration will unveil its strategy for creating a marketplace in secure online credentials on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) will be on hand to unveil the administration's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which will attempt to improve on the passwords users use to log in online.

Lawmakers and stakeholders have been eagerly awaiting the White House's legislative recommendations, which are expected to inform the upcoming debate over cybersecurity legislation. After months of inaction, both Senate Democrats and the White House have promised to open up the talks in the near future.

The White House claims its goal is to create a marketplace in secure online credentials with both public and private identity providers. Civil rights activists will doubtless be watching closely for the details of any government-issued online credentials, given past opposition to any form of national identity card.

The administration argues consistent standards for online identification and authentication will make transactions faster, safer and more private. The website for the NSTIC emphasizes that participation in the "identity ecosystem" will be voluntary.

"You will still be able to surf the Web, write a blog, participate in an online discussion, and post comments to a wiki anonymously or using a pseudonym," the site states.

"You would choose when to use your trusted ID. When you want stronger identity protection, you use your credential, enabling higher levels of trust and security."

Also attending Friday's event will be Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), DHS deputy secretary Jane Lute and National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, who will be on hand to underscore the importance of secure online networks to the country's economic future.