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US talks the talk with digital ID. Maybe officials walk to success

US talks the talk with digital ID. Maybe officials walk to success

The United States trails many nations when it comes to digital identity rules, projects and completions, but federal and state governments continue to bubble with ideas.

This month has seen plans suggested by one of the remarkably few members of the lower house of Congress who can speak intelligently on the topic, the mayor of New York and the lynchpin ID agency in California.

Each idea breaks down as commonsense but politically ambitious (Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill.), just plain ambitious (Gov. Kathy Hochul) and practical but isolated (California’s motor vehicle agency), respectively.

Foster was speaking at an identity and authentication conference sponsored by the Better Identity Coalition, FIDO Alliance and ID Theft Resource Center, which can be watched here (but the audio is middle school stage play quality).

His message was simple. A lack of federal trusted digital IDs is making fraud and other online crime easier to commit.

Foster brought out his license plate analogy. The coded plates can deter crime with fear of being identified. Crypto is like the car, and if there is no way to identify the parties in a, for instance, money laundering cryptographic transaction, it is hard to find people who might be perpetrating a crime.

“You need to have a regulator that can see some cryptographically obscured version of the true identities of that trade,” he said.

“You can have a much lighter-touch regulation having to do with things like sable coins, where you don’t have to worry about market manipulation. You just have to worry about if this being used for illicit purposes,” Foster said.

A person or business should be able to look along a blockchain to see cryptographically obscured digital identities at every step, ruling out at least some crimes.

Then there is a grand digital plan forming in New York state.

Gov. Hochul says she wants to change how people access services and benefits from agencies. She is planning “significant technological enhancements” while reducing friction for residents dealing with the state.

Hers is a long list of goals. Launch a digital identification program, called One ID, that simplifies transactions between residents and state administrators is one. Another is the implementation of electronic signatures.

Many others are sundry ideas and good intentions. She wants to use digital IDs to cut call wait times, too, and revamp state web sites and applications along the way.

A chief customer experience officer will be appointed for the first time in the state to ride herd over the projects.

On the other side of the nation, California plans to digitize car titles and transfers using blockchain. It would be a significant upgrade for the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is an important agency for a state still overly dependent on vehicles.

A number of publications are reporting that the agency is testing digitization of identity documents using the Tezos blockchain and Oxhead Alpha software. A successful proof of concept debuted January 25.

Once these tasks have been mastered, the DMV reportedly wants to start pushing out and managing digital wallets that would hold titles. The hope is that success here can be exported to the state’s many other agencies.

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