Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., John Katko, R-N.Y., Jim Langevin, D-R.I. and Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga. on Sept. 11 introduced legislation to improve the nation’s digital identity infrastructure.

“This bill is a much needed first step to ensuring the United States catches up with the developed world on digital identity,” Rep. Foster said. “So much of peoples’ daily lives are spent conducting business online – whether it’s banking, investing, shopping, or even communicating with doctors. It’s become vitally important to ramp up safeguards to protect against identity theft and fraud, so that both consumers and businesses can have confidence in online transactions and the peace-of-mind of protecting sensitive information.”

According to a press release, the Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020 would modernize U.S. digital identity infrastructure by:

  • Establishing a task force to bring key Federal agencies together with state and local governments to develop secure methods for Federal agencies “to validate identity attributes to protect the privacy and security of individuals and support reliable, interoperable digital identity verification tools in the public and private sectors”;
  • Directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a new framework of standards to guide Federal agencies when providing digital identity verification services; and
  • Establishing a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to allow states to upgrade current systems to issue drivers’ licenses and other types of identity credentials, and “to support the development of secure, interoperable state systems that enable digital identity verification in accordance with the framework developed by NIST.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic and our increased reliance on the internet to accomplish everyday tasks has made it abundantly clear that we should build out our digital identity infrastructure,” Rep. Langevin said.

The legislation was referred to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, as well as the Committees on Science, Space, and Technology, and Ways and Means.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.