U.S. Congressmen push a bipartisan digital ID package

U.S. Congressmen push a bipartisan digital ID package

Days after a U.S. Labor Department administrator told ID tech executives that Washington is losing billions of dollars to online crime, a pair of federal lawmakers introduced legislation to modernize the nation’s digital ID infrastructure.

The Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020 is being sponsored by four congressmen: Illinois Democrat Bill Foster, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin, Georgia Republican Barry Loudermilk and New York Republican John Katko.

Last week, the administrator of Labor’s unemployment insurance office spoke to attendees during a federal ID online conference, saying fraudulent new jobless claims are rampant because digital IDs are unavailable.

The Langevin-Loudermilk legislation would first create a task force of relevant federal, state and local government officials to identify what would be needed to create private and secure verification tools for use in public and private transactions, which is where biometrics could come in.

Second, it would have NIST create standards for interoperable digital IDs to be used by government agencies that provide digital ID services.

Last, Department of Homeland Security grants would be created for states wanting to upgrade their current IDs so that they meet NIST standards for private and secure digital IDs.

“By compromising an individual’s digital identity, cybercriminals can steal money and sensitive data,” states Congressman Katko in the announcement. “We must take steps to modernize these systems and address vulnerabilities. Our bill does this by forming a task force on securing digital identities, establishing a standard framework for federal agencies when providing digital identity verification services, and creating a grant program for states to modernize their systems.”

At least one industry player is supportive of the effort. Authentication vendor OneSpan issued a statement saying that a government-wide effort would fix a gaping hole for the country. A unified and secure program that prioritized individuals’ privacy would improve lives by reducing the risk of identity theft and fraud.

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