Group urges U.S. to adopt electronic ID cards for citizens

Aliya Sternstein
NextGov

As the Obama administration works on a set of voluntary online credentials for American Web surfers, some technologists say the government should examine Estonia’s mandatory electronic identification cards as a model.

In the United States, opposition to national ID cards has long prevented the government from assigning citizens electronic credentials for online authentication purposes. But, certain aspects of e-credentials may protect personal information better than the passwords and PIN numbers people currently use for online transactions, according to some privacy groups, including the Center for Technology and Democracy.

A study on international e-identification efforts released Thursday by the nonprofit Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, noted that, “As of 2011, over 90 percent of the population in Estonia had an e-ID. . . In contrast, as of 2011, the United States does not have a national e-ID system. Most individuals still use a collection of poorly secured usernames and passwords to access online services.”

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