Monday, October 8, 2012

5-11 Campaign Reboots to Challenge National Online Identity Initiative

Campaign resumes to address emerging national ID schemes online

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SEATTLE - The 5-11 Campaign, a public awareness watchdog on national identity schemes and data surveillance, will resume effort to campaign against public interest threats posed by White House Initiative National Strategy for Trusted Identity in Cyberspace or NSTIC.

“We are looking past the demands of previous campaigning to address analog actors in the public and private sector moving national ID schemes online. It’s a new day for national ID.”

NSTIC, a public private global federated ID policy encourages users to voluntarily aggregate nationalised or government issued ID into technologies prone to warrantless government surveillance: smart phones, various handheld mobile computing devices, and social networks with histories of making surveillance concessions to governments to monitor dissent, censor or police the Internet.  

“Your passport is not something the digital world or surveillance industries have access to unless you give it to them.  Mass adoption of nationalized identity articles into a Facebook authentication login could give a motivated hacker keys to your kingdom. If Facebook, or anyone else in the digital authentication chain, changes their privacy or identity handling policies ad hoc, the user suffers.  Add static biometric identifiers into an online identity credential like: DNA, iris scans or fingerprints and you are looking at either a very convenient dossier for prying government agencies or a very tempting prospect for concentrating identity thieves,” says Sheila Dean, spokesperson for the 5-11 Campaign. 

The resurgence of 5-11’s goals and initiative address a pending threat stemming from the Real ID Act’s legal tenure and DHS rulemaking on federal identity articles.  If Real ID were extended to the online community, DHS may be able to censor the Internet or ban admission to public sites based on demands for online identity authentication. 

Efforts to bring privacy contingencies to NSTIC’s core processes have proven nominal in policy development committees.  A recent majoritarian move nearly cut out considerations for the construct of privacy in NSTIC’s steering committee, the IDESG.  While an elected privacy officer has been retained, dialogue revealed the IDESG has no power to check fiscal decision making or NPO action directly impacting privacy. 

NIST recently funded pilots to bring e-passports onto smartphones at border crossings and to bring drivers license identity articles online despite concerns of nationalisation.  Current events establish a mismanagement of any trust the US government will heed recommendations NSTIC be secure, stay essentially private for users or possess the long term architecture to remain anonymous in a federated identity system.  

NIST’s NPO office is bringing nationalised identity to the online community against the better knowledge of the IDESG and privacy considerations. NSTIC, like every other national identity scheme, packs human rights problems with it: online movement limitations, identity abuse, censorship, suppression of dissent, individuated surveillance, institutional and government exclusions of accountable publics.

“The bar is set way too low for Google, Facebook or any other authentication manufacturer to regard to digital privacy long term.  Current electronic privacy laws are not enough to protect vital identity articles on mobile devices or online at the level of identity this will demand from a user.  Government trends are to overwrite the 4th Amendment to commandeer public and private information against the interest of the identified person.  There is a lot of misinformation and posturing stances in the technology community to regard privacy from those who have a conflict of interest. The livelihood of most social networks rely on a venture capital bedrock of selling user manufactured data. 

The drivers license, the passport, the SSN, are the holy grail to digital and Big Data companies because they can get expedited authentications from banks for online commerce transactions, or an elite accreditation process for being “trusted” with federated, or comprehensive identity.  The problem is that most of these institutions are not currently trustworthy with information as sensitive as [biometric] identity. Both the government and digital corporations are abusing what they get right now,” says Dean.

The 5-11 Campaign is available now for comment and news interviews.

Sheila Dean is the blog editor for and speaker for the 5-11 Campaign, a privacy and identity rights organization. 

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