2019 Policy Forum Sheds Light on Societal Impacts of Identity & Authentication
Andrew Shikiar, executive director and CMO
Last week the FIDO Alliance held an impactful policy forum in D.C. with partners Better Identity Coalition, Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and National Cybersecurity Alliance. This is the fourth year that we’ve held this event, which aims to provide attendees with a broadened view of the intersection of identity, authentication and policy.
The talks from government officials showed that agencies are in tune with the need, and society’s demand, to provide more seamless digital services to citizens while increasing security. Grant Schneider, the federal government’s chief information security officer, summed it up: “Our goals from an identity standpoint is first and foremost, how do we increase security that also increases usability? Because we have to do both at the same time.”
The good news is that government officials recognize the availability of modern authentication technology and how it can help them achieve their goals. The Social Security Administration’s CIO Rajive Mathur, spoke about plans to digitize SSA, including rolling out FIDO-based logins in the near future. One federation partner they are considering is login.gov, which uses FIDO Authentication today. “Our goal is to eliminate passwords,” Mathur said.
Several speakers pointed out that identity is first a societal issue, rather than just a technology or policy issue. This was clear in the fireside chat with identity-theft victim Axton Betz-Hamilton, who shared her case and talked about the emotional toll it had on her, and the difficult recovery process. Betz-Hamilton is just one of millions of people who are impacted by identity theft each year, and endure its deep and lasting ramifications.
Another impactful talk on the societal impacts of identity was from Reverend Ben Roberts from the Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C. Rev. Roberts talked about the church’s ID Ministry, which assists poor, homeless or others lacking in resources to acquire government identification. His talk was a reminder about how much one’s identity is based on having basic documentation such as birth certificates, social security cards and state-issued IDs — and how verifying identity is critical to receiving societal staples such as employment, housing and/or government assistance.
“For those of you building systems of identity and authentication, be intentional, be mindful,” Rev. Roberts said in his talk. He’s absolutely right. As we look at identity and providing best practices around remote identity verification processes and technologies, we need to be aware there are people without access to basic identity documentation and ensure that this large population of people isn’t left behind.
If you missed our policy day, you can still watch the talks — the webcast is archived on YouTube at https://youtu.be/2MxHT8o3lfY.
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