When online, how do you know who you’re really communicating with? Does that affect your shopping or banking habits? Do you know people who don’t use the Internet much because they are afraid of identity theft?

The latest statistics from a Pew Research Center study demonstrate the pull of the Internet:

•80 percent of Americans are users, whether through personal computer, tablet, or smartphone;
•many of those users do not conduct any kind of commerce;
•30 percent have not made a purchase online;
•and 40 percent do not bank online.

Would a more secure approach to online identity raise those figures?

The Office of Inspector General’s new paper Digital Identity: Opportunities for the Postal Service examines the world of digital identity as well as many existing digital authentication solutions, including pilot projects, and potential roles for the Postal Service in the digital identity ecosystem.

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The paper posits that there is a need for a trusted and neutral body to identify, authenticate, and certify users in a straightforward manner that reduces sign-up friction and maintains privacy with very clear, concise, and enforceable policy guidelines. The Postal Service, given its national presence, physical infrastructure, and history of protecting privacy, could operate in a number of roles:

•As a Trusted Third Party Online – The Postal Service could verify individual or business addresses (with permission from each user) for other organizations to facilitate eCommerce or other online transactions.

•As an Identity Provider – The Postal Service could offer its own digital identity service, an opt-in service verifying attributes of consumers, businesses and organizations.

•Providing in-Person Verification Services – The Postal Service could expand the work it already does for passports and offer in-person verification of mailing addresses through its network of post offices and postal carriers.

What do you think? Is there a role for the Postal Service in digital identity? Share your thoughts below!

Comments (1)

  • anon

    Just as First Class mail has provided a safe secure and uniform way to assure communcations are protected througout the nation, the Postal Service has a unique opportunity to help lead the emergence of essential security for Internet transactions. One can argue forever about how this is done, but agreement on the proper role and strategis result will lead to action. The Postal Service decision to designate Paul Vogel as the "czar" of all things digital is a terrific first step and opens the door to making the important government/private sector colaboration a reality. Many suggest that action is the key to effective leadership and strategic decisions now will do much to help assure America continues to have the best in the world as global markets continue to grow.

    Jun 17, 2012

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