Watch out for the tinfoil hat brigade

The United States Department of Commerce recently announced the final release of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). While there was some discussion in the technical press, and a bit in the general press, there doesn't seem to have been nearly as much controversy as when the Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, brought it up at an event at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research last January.

The United States Department of Commerce recently announced the final release of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). While there was some discussion in the technical press, and a bit in the general press, there doesn't seem to have been nearly as much controversy as when the Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, brought it up at an event at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in January.

Whether it was just a slow news day, or Secretary Locke's fuzzy description of NSTIC, I don't know -- but even respected news outlets such as Cnet revealed their crazy side by saying: "Obama has signed authority over to U.S. Commerce Department to create new privacy laws that require American citizens to hold an Internet ID card."

BACKGROUND: White House releases trusted Internet ID plan

Now there's nothing in NSTIC -- either the preliminary document released in June 2010, the review by Secretary Locke in January or the final version released last week that says anything about establishing a "national ID card." But that's not stopping the conspiracy theorists.

Tom Grasson is the editor-in-chief of Energy Solutions magazine. Not a big circulation, but if you're in an energy field it's probably something your execs are reading. He recently said:

"I can't believe that the average American citizen would buy into this propaganda. First of all, it's hard to digest that an Internet ID for all Americans is needed to correct the problem of password memorization. I would agree with the concept of keeping the Internet safe when it comes to maintaining privacy. However, as I understand the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace plan, everyone will be required to participate in a program that places sensitive information in one location under the government's watchful eye. Inevitably, this will mean handing over a great deal of control to the government."

He then goes on to compare this "Internet ID card" to a driver's license:

"I bring up the driver license example, not because I think having a driver's license is a bad thing, but rather to show how something can snowball. Once the gate is open, anything is possible. I believe if this government Internet ID becomes a reality, it won't be long before we are charged a mandatory fee to use the Internet, which, of course, will be on a sliding scale depending on the actual usage. Furthermore, it could be used to monitor individual buying and selling activities, which will foster uncharted tax structures for interstate commerce as well as eBay activities."

Whoa!

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is a call for private industry to construct a viable infrastructure for an identity layer on the Internet. Read it for yourself -- this is no Big Brother scheme. But unless knowledgeable people like you speak up, the crazies and conspiracy theorists will control the discussion and we'll all be worse off. Speak up, speak out -- be heard.

Learn more about this topic

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White House releases trusted Internet ID plan

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