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[ga] Re: IP: Feds might use Microsoft product for online ID

Some though that my understanding of the MS policy was too much...

>Feds might use Microsoft product for online ID
>By Brier Dudley
>Seattle Times technology reporter
>Forget about a national ID card. Instead, the federal government
>might use Microsoft's Passport technology to verify the online
>identity of America's citizens, federal employees and businesses,
>according to the White House technology czar.
>On Sept. 30, the government plans to begin testing Web sites
>where businesses can pay taxes and citizens can learn about
>benefits and social services. It's also exploring how to verify
>the identity of users so the sites can share private information.
>Microsoft's Passport is being considered as a way to authenticate
>users of the Web sites, said Mark Forman, associate director of
>information technology at the White House.
>"They are involved in that discussion,'' he said, adding that the
>government has not yet selected which technology it will use.
>Forman, who is overseeing the government's purchases of $100
>billion worth of technology this year and next, was a featured
>speaker at the Microsoft Government Leaders Conference in Seattle
>this week.
>Forman is a former Senate staffer who worked for IBM and Unisys
>before he joined the Bush administration.
>Describing himself as the government's chief information officer,
>he said his priorities are to impose businesslike approaches for
>technology deployments and to monitor improvements they bring.
>After the Sept. 11 attacks, some politicians and business leaders
>have called for a national identification card, but Forman said
>that's not in the works. "We don't have any plans for a national
>ID card," he said.
>The White House is instead pursuing an "e-identification"
>initiative, an effort to develop ways to authenticate people and
>businesses online who already have government identification
>numbers such as Social Security, business-registration and
>employer-identification numbers.
>At the government-leaders conference, attended by representatives
>of 75 countries, Microsoft presented a blueprint for its
>"e-government" strategy that suggests they use Passport to verify
>the identity of visitors to their Web sites. It also suggested
>that its bCentral business Web site could be used to process
>business tax payments and that citizens could use its MSN Web
>site to handle address changes and voter registration.
>Governments have long been some of Microsoft's biggest
>customers. Its desktop software for office workers and back-end
>software running networks are widely by used by state and federal
>agencies, and the company has developed Internet portals for the
>United Kingdom, Mexico and other nations.
>But getting the United States to use Passport to authenticate
>its 285 million citizens online would be a coup for the Redmond
>software company. It would also be a large step toward fulfilling
>Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' stated goal of getting everyone on
>the Internet to use Passport as their sign-on tool.
>Yesterday, appearing at the conference, Gates reiterated the
>goal, saying he expects governments in many countries will find
>it difficult getting to "critical mass" with authentication
>systems they develop on their own. He said some governments may
>opt to use companies such as Microsoft or America Online as "the
>bank" that registers people for online usage.
>Passport was introduced in 1999 and is the keystone of an array
>of online services the company introduced a year ago, when Gates
>revealed his ambitions for the service.
>After privacy advocates attacked the plan and a coalition of
>major corporations formed an alliance to develop standards for
>authentication systems that would work together, Microsoft
>toned down its approach. It now acknowledges that Passport will
>co-exist with other tools.
>Forman said his team has also been contacted by the coalition,
>called the Liberty Alliance, and will meet with them at some
>The current version of Passport requires little personal
>information other than an e-mail address, but a new, more secure
>version expected by mid-2003 may be used to store sensitive data
>on Microsoft's network.
>Microsoft says it has 200 million people registered to use
>Passport, most of whom signed up because Microsoft told them it
>was needed to use other Microsoft services, such as its free
>Hotmail e-mail service or Windows XP operating system. According
>to Gartner, a research company based in Stamford, Conn., only 2
>percent signed up because of the service's stated purpose: to
>avoid having to use multiple identifications and passwords at
>different Web sites.
>Avivah Litan, vice president and research director at Gartner,
>said expanding Passport benefits Microsoft by drawing more Web
>traffic, making its sites more appealing to advertisers and
>enabling the company to charge "click through" fees for online
>sales executed using the service.
>But the company may ultimately decide it's not worthwhile to
>boost the service from a tool of convenience for consumers to a
>verification service relied upon by businesses and government.
>"Once you start vouching for identity, that makes you liable for
>fraud, that makes you liable for identity theft," Litan said.
>Also at the conference, Microsoft announced plans to bring
>Internet access to government services to Mexico through a
>network of kiosks developed with the company's technology.
>For archives see:

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