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Definition

Identity Ecosystem

Identity Ecosystem, more formally known as the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, is a proposal from the United States federal government to improve identity authentication on the Internet and make online transactions safer.

The proposal has four goals:

  • To develop a comprehensive Identity Ecosystem framework.
  • To build and implement an interoperable identity infrastructure aligned with the framework.
  • To enhance confidence and willingness to participate in the Identity Ecosystem.
  • To ensure the long-term success of the Identity Ecosystem.

The proposal invites citizens to suggest ideas for creating the ecosystem.  

“We seek a future where individuals can voluntarily choose to obtain a secure, interoperable, and privacy-enhancing credential from a variety of service providers – both public and private – to authenticate themselves online for different types of transactions.”

Although there has already been some resistance to the scheme from privacy advocates, it is likely that to the end user, an Identity Ecosystem will be familiar and work in much the same way as the financial ecosystem that allows people to withdraw cash from an ATM machine, even when the machine belongs to another bank in another city.  The Identity Ecosystem will add another layer of security, aimed at reducing identity theft and simplifying the user experience for various other types of electronic transactions.

Once the Identity Ecosystem standards are defined, the government hopes to spark adoption by making the federal government an early adopter and offering businesses financial incentives for developing, training and implementing the framework.

Learn more:

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace focuses on the protection of the identity of each party to an online transaction and the identity of the underlying infrastructure that supports it.

Citizens are invited to share their ideas for how to build an Identity Ecosystem

Bill Gates spoke about the need for a trust ecosystem in his 2006 RSA keynote.

This was last updated in June 2011

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