I accepted an invitation from the Center for Identity at the University of Texas to participate in an upcoming panel at ID360: The Global Forum on Identity entitled, “The NSTIC Difference for Individuals, Businesses and Government.”

As Executive Director of the OpenID Foundation (IOIDF) and Chair of the Open Identity Exchange (OIX), I have a courtside seat watching the interplay of governments, advocates and corporations engaged in trusted transactions in cyberspace. I can see when government’s aspirations for the Internet identity collide with ecosystem realities, businesses flinch. The UT Center for Identity asked me to join a panel to represent the “business” voice on the panel, and discuss why both domestic and international businesses are interested in successful implementation of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) guiding principles:

  1. Private and Voluntary
  2. Secure and Resilient
  3. Interoperable
  4. Cost Effective and Easy to Use

There is an impedance mismatch between the rapid pace of technology innovation and the NSTIC’s guiding principles for accelerating the use of trusted digital identity credentials. The US Government strategy aims to deploy systems that help secure transactions on the Internet, improve public awareness, control of personal information, and stimulate growth of online commerce. The US government is trying to further accelerate this progress by:

  1. Funding pilots that further catalyze the formation of the ecosystem and its adoption.
  2. Recruit more relying parties to participate – including high-profile government agencies.
  3. Establish a privately led steering group that convenes stakeholders to help fill the gaps in standards and policies that keep the ecosystem from being fully realized today.

The “impedance mismatch” is a view held by many in business that there’s no need to “jumpstart the ecosystem.” To be sure, the Internet identity ecosystem is alive and well. Venture capital and strategic investment is pouring into the sector. New value propositions in mobile, local, social and real time are driving innovation. New online identity authentication and verification services are being deployed at a rapid rate on a global scale. The online identity standards are making painstaking progress in commercial areas of greatest investment and interest including mobile, enterprise and e-commerce.

The ID360 panel will discuss how all this is coming together in the US NSTIC and the UK effort to transition its pension and worker benefits program to online services. This is the “mother of all use cases” for online identity authentication. Her Majesty’s Government’s PWB procurement promises the first nationwide deployment of an Internet ecosystem composed of identity attribute exchange, trust elevation and citizen/user experience in the context of a open trust framework. The whole world will be watching the UK Government Digital Service’s Identity Assurance Programme (IDAP) manage the challenges of the “impedance mismatch” of new and powerful tools “technology tools” and government procurement and policy “rules.” The pilots in the US and UK will be a live demonstration of what will be an important masse market test of combining traditional authentication methods with new ways to leverage the social graph. THe USG and MHG pilots will showcase the value proposition of a “trust mark” in the context of usability and citizen engagement.

One of the areas where the USG and HMG continue to be challenged is in enforcing mandates around IT in general, and in particular trust frameworks/schemes. Private and public sector funded pilots in the UK and US, the OIX Internet Identity Attribute Exchange Working Group, and Microsoft’s introduction of its Cloud Identity and Privacy Protection Service, CIPPS, all signal important changes in the rapidly evolving Internet identity ecosystem.

The NSTIC can have a positive impact on identity opinion leaders in that it has laid out a vision for how the marketplace might evolve. This certainly has many people thinking about the role of government in new and existing online businesses, which is in part the focus for communities like those gathering at the University of Texas at Austin on April 23-24.

I look forward to bringing the business voice to this panel, and meeting others interested in these discussions. Online registration for the two-day global forum closes on April 19th.