Obama Administration Involving Private Sector in Online Identity Protection

The recent holiday season saw more than $30 billion in online sales in the United States. But growing concerns about the risks of doing business and other activities over the Internet could eventually slow its success, says U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt spoke about the topic to Silicon Valley audiences last week, reports The Mercury News.

"The threats on the Internet seem to be proliferating just as fast as the opportunities," Locke told an audience at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. "Data breaches, malware, ID theft and spam are just some of the most commonly known invasions of a user's privacy and security. People are worried about their personal information going out, and parents like me are worried about unwanted explicit material coming in to their children."

The Administration’s plan to improve online identity protection, released last summer, raised some concerns from civil liberties groups about government-issued I.D. cards. But Locke and Schmidt told the Silicon Valley execs that if encrypted identity cards or USB devices eventually replace online passwords, they will be voluntary and created by private companies.

Security industry experts speaking alongside Locke and Schmidt said they approved of the Obama Administration’s thinking and direction on the issue.

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