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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Can anyone guarantee privacy in cyberspace?

Design by || Maggie Phillips || [email protected]

Whether we want it to or not, the infamous Internet has become vital to the world for most of us. Shopping, social networking, blogging, accessing medical records, and making all sorts of personal transactions are just a few conveniences available online to everyone with Internet access.

People are understandably concerned about their online vulnerabilities over the Internet, and skepticism over government
involvement has always been a leading cause. Despite the countless strategies created in an attempt to increase online protection and services, Americans should be skeptical.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated, “Identity theft has emerged as a dominant and pervasive financial crime that exposes individuals and businesses to significant losses and undermines the credibility and operation of the entire U.S. financial system.”

The latest Internet ID, called NSTIC, The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, proposed by the Obama administration, envisions an “Identity Ecosystem—where individuals, businesses, and other organizations enjoy greater trust and security as they conduct sensitive transactions online,” according to a draft on the NSTIC website.

The Identity Ecosystem would be overseen by the private sector. The program would include a vibrant marketplace allowing people to choose among multiple identity providers—both private and public—that would issue trusted credentials.
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“We are not talking about a national ID card. We are not talking about a government controlled system,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, at an event at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research earlier this year. “What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

Jim Harper, director of information studies at the Cato Institute, said, “People will not participate in a government corporate identity project that deviates from their demand for control of identity information, which is an essential part of privacy protection, autonomy and liberty.” stated that Locke warned the plan will not fix all security problems, and vulnerabilities will still need to be addressed. And, he added, people will still need to be careful.

According to NSTIC, “If the marketplace does not respond in a timely way to that uncertainty with ways to ensure that privacy is protected and limits on liability are described, then changes to current federal laws may be necessary.”

Americans can expect more rules and regulations along with a number of constant efforts for improvement. In what would seem like a trade off between the virtual and actual world, Internet businesses could go through intense control and meet certain approvals just to stay in business, and Internet users without an NSTIC Identification might not exist in the online world of federal agencies.

Improvements to Internet safety should not be proposed if privacy and safety cannot be fully guaranteed. Although the plan sounds like a great idea, Americans should be cautious of what they trust online because not everything is what it seems, especially in this constantly evolving virtual world.

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