What's the Role of Homeland Security in the Government's Online ID Plan?

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Last week, the government rolled out its National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, trumpeting the "blueprint to reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities and improve online privacy protections." Over at Miller-McCune, Emily Badget talked with Amie Stepanovich, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to run through the plan's pros and cons. One troubling note is that the government has not revealed what role the Department of Homeland Security would play, even though it has long been associated with this idea.

Nowhere in the government's 45-page proposal is the Department of Homeland Security mentioned, but that agency has been involved throughout the idea's history, dating back to its lead in developing the federal employee ID card system. The public face of the proposal, instead, has been Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, within Commerce, is set now to lead the plan forward.

Homeland Security's involvement, though, sends up yellow flags.

"We don't really know what their role with NSTIC is," Stepanovich said. "We know they were a partner in developing the strategy, and supposedly they have transitioned their role to NIST to implement it. I think, though, that we have to be aware as consumers of this program that if DHS continues to be involved, there are definitely concerns that are going to come with that."

Read the full story at Miller-McCune.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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