A bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to force the federal government to strengthen its digital identity policies, according to a NextGov report. The House of Representative’s Improving Digital Identity Act does not seem to offer much in the way of concrete regulations, but does include a series of initiatives that would update and enhance the government’s outdated identity framework
Should the Act get passed, the President would need to create a new Improving Digital Identity Task Force with representatives from a number of key agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, State, and Education. It would also include additional members from the local and state government levels.
The Task Force itself would be asked to create secure digital identity guidelines for the public sector. The goal is to boost interoperability and give government agencies a way to verify digital identities while still respecting the privacy of individual civilians. That, in turn, would allow government agencies to use digital identities for a wider range of functions.
The bill lays out similar expectations for the NIST, which would be required to contribute to the new standards framework, and create the guide that organizations would need to follow in order to achieve compliance. The Department of Homeland Security, on the other hand, would lead a grant program help states update their credentialing system, and be asked to publish cybersecurity directives for other federal agencies.
The lawmakers are pushing the bill in response to a recent spate of cyberattacks. They noted that data breaches led to the exposure of 164 million consumer records in 2019 alone, and argued that the US needs to modernize its framework to keep up with the latest cyberthreats.
“The work and routine of daily life is increasingly done online—whether it’s banking, investing, shopping, or even communicating with doctors—and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this digital evolution,” said Illinois Representative Bill Foster (D), one of the authors of the bill. “It’s become vitally important to ramp up safeguards to protect against identity theft and fraud, so consumers and businesses can have confidence in online transactions and the peace-of-mind of protecting sensitive information.”
New York’s John Katko (R), Rhode Island’s Jim Langevin, (D) and Georgia’s Barry Loudermilk (R) are the other three Representatives backing the bill. President Joe Biden has previously indicated that cybersecurity is a major priority for the country, and has already issued an Executive Order that will force federal agencies to adopt multi-factor authentication.