Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., John Katko, R-N.Y., Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., have introduced legislation that aims to modernize the United States’ digital identity infrastructure and protect Americans from having their personal information stolen.

The Improving Digital Identity Act of 2021 would establish a task force of Federal, state, and local leaders “to develop secure methods for government 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,” according to a press release.

The bill would also instruct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop new standards for digital identity verification services, with an emphasis on security and privacy.

Additionally, the legislation would establish a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for states to upgrade their systems that enable digital identity verification, such as those used to issue drivers’ licenses or other types of identity credentials. These upgrades would also conform with the new NIST standards.

“It’s time for the United States to catch up to the rest of the developed world on digital identity,” Rep. Foster said. “The work and routine of daily life is increasingly done online – whether it’s banking, investing, shopping, or even communicating with doctors – and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this digital evolution. It’s become vitally important to ramp up safeguards to protect against identity theft and fraud, so consumers and businesses can have confidence in online transactions and the peace-of-mind of protecting sensitive information.”

“COVID-19 changed a lot of in the way Americans live, work, and provide for our families, and we have become even more reliant on digital commerce platforms. But with more Americans adapting to a ‘new normal’ in the way we go about purchasing life necessities, this also means more Americans’ personally identifiable information [PII] is at risk of being stolen,” said Rep. Loudermilk.

“The Digital Identity Act of 2021 is critical because it will enable Americans to manage their identifying credentials,” he added. “With over two decades in the IT sector, I know this legislation will help protect hardworking Americans, and make it harder for criminals to exploit and steal identities and hard-earned money.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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