Are You Ready for a Driver’s License for the Internet?

The White House is leading efforts for a new authentication system that would have users prove their identity with a single ID across the Web. And states are starting to pilot the system.

by Colin Wood

A customer waits to have his driver's license photo taken.

Government is raising its expectations. While it hasn’t been uncommon in the past for governments to consider money wasted by fraud, mismanagement or inefficiency as an expense of doing business, times are changing. New technologies are preventing such waste and initiating cultural change in the public sector. At the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), that transformation is being realized through the adoption of an online authentication tool the agency is using to ensure that the benefits it issues, like food assistance, are going to the right people.


Such incarnations of online authentication technology are sprouting up in state government agencies around the country, led by a White House vision of a new, central form of identification, what some are calling “a driver’s license for the Internet.”

The DCF reported that in 2013 it saved about $14.7 million through the use of an online authentication tool, with an initial investment of about $1 million and a total contract of just under $3 million. The tool and subscription service was purchased from LexisNexis and operates similarly to the systems used by financial institutions to verify the identity of loan or mortgage applicants. Now when people apply for various programs online, they are prompted with identity verification questions about their previous employers or the names of streets where they lived.

Identify Verification for the Web

A single ID that can be used across the entire Internet is an idea that has been talked about for a long time, and since the 1980s, the technology world has known that the password model is inadequate, said technology analyst Rob Enderle. A single set of credentials that could be used to verify identity would be far superior to what’s used today, he said, and the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace would lead the Internet toward that goal.


Full story at


Government starts testing online ID program

… State officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania have been awarded roughly $2.4 million in federal funds to test an online ID system that’s been called a “driver’s license for the internet,” and it could soon exist from coast to coast.

The “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” program has been in development for years, but it’s about to finally be rolled-out to a degree in two locales in order to see if using government-certified IDs on the web is something worth considering on a much larger scale.

In theory, the program would also help curb a major problem rampant within both the worldwide web and the federal government: abuse. The United States government loses billions of dollars a year due to fraud, Neal reported, and the White House thinks that number could be drastically cut if a new system was implemented to authenticate the people that use government programs and websites alike…..


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