The Better Identity Coalition

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Better Identity Coalition Hails Release of White House Memo Expanding Digital Identity Choices

New directive embraces Coalition’s key recommendation in its Blueprint released last year

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2019 — The Better Identity Coalition praised the release of a new White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policy memo calling for agencies to offer improved digital identity solutions.

OMB embraced a key recommendation from the Coalition’s report, Better Identity in America: A Blueprint for Policymakers, published last summer: Governments should offer new digital services to validate attributes – modernizing legacy paper-based identity systems around a privacy-protecting, consumer-centric digital model that allows consumers to ask the agency that issued a credential to stand behind it in the online world – by validating the information from the credential.

The recommendation was included in Memorandum 19-17 (“Enabling Mission Delivery through Improved Identity, Credential, and Access Management”) which updates the U.S. government’s policies on an array of digital identity issues to reflect the emergence of new technologies and new threat vectors, as well as the need for more robust online citizen-facing services.   

“The Coalition’s Policy Blueprint has garnered excellent reception from leaders in both the public and private sectors,” said Jeremy Grant, Coordinator of the Better Identity Coalition. “This new White House policy echoes a key recommendation we made last summer, directing agencies to offer new services that make it easier for Americans to prove who they are online in a way that improves privacy, security and convenience.”

In part, per the new Memorandum:

Agencies that are authoritative sources for attributes (e.g., SSN) utilized in identity proofing· events, as selected by OMB and permissible by law, shall establish privacy-enhanced data validation APIs for public and private sector identity proofing services to consume, providing a mechanism to improve the assurance of digital identity verification transactions based on consumer consent.

Those selected agencies, in coordination with OMB, shall establish standard processes and terms of use for public and private sector identity proofing services that want to consumer the APIs. 

America is challenged by an identity gap between the physical credentials that governments have traditionally issued and the digital environments where commerce increasingly takes place. The Coalition’s blueprint stresses that adversaries have caught up with the first-generation systems businesses and government have used for digital identity proofing and verification, leading to millions of fraud victims and billions of dollars in losses. The best way to address these challenges is not by creating new identity systems, but by allowing consumers to ask government that it stand behind the paper and plastic credentials it already issues in the physical world.

“This new White House directive is a critical step,” said Grant. “It lays the policy foundation for a new array of more secure, privacy-enhanced digital identity solutions to help consumers better protect their identities and more easily do business online.” 

Please contact Bri Law at blaw@venable.com or 202-344-4411 with interview requests or for media follow-up.

Doug Gardner