Feds encourage tech companies to create ID management 'ecosystem'
White House and other federal officials are actively urging private technology companies to create an ecosystem of identity management solutions that are interoperable, according to Howard Schmidt, White House cybersecurity coordinator.
Once the ecosystem is in place, federal agencies will utilize the solutions for their identity management needs, Schmidt said at a Jan. 31 conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Describing the White House’s strategy for trusted identities in cyberspace, Schmidt said the government’s role will be “facilitator” and customer.
“We will bring the people together,” Schmidt said. “We can help convene a lot of these things. But the government will also be a customer of these. And I think there’s nothing better than having some identity that I use in an e-commerce environment, I can use that same environment in the government.”
“It is really difficult for the government to ask people—the private sector--to do stuff that the government is not willing to do. And that’s truly the thing we need to do,” Schmidt added.
What is driving the activity is a need for more comprehensive greater identity protection and assurance while on the Internet, he said. A few years ago, commercial firms and individuals were more willing to write off small losses, but now there is more support for comprehensive solutions.
“I think there is a bigger picture now,” Schmidt said. “The White House and many of you in this room have said, it’s not just about the money. It’s the trust in the system. It’s the ability to build the system. And I think that’s what’s really got people thinking about this more than just, oh gee, there was a little loss that I can write off.”
White House officials are actively meeting with private sector technologists and business people to foster development of the ecosystem, Schmidt said.
“We meet with Congress regularly. We meet with CEOs, the venture capitalists--four or five workshops to date – continuously saying, here’s what we need, and asking private sector to build it. So I think there’s a whole different discussion today than what we had 11 years ago or even 3 years ago,” Schmidt said.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.