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Foster Introduces Bipartisan Digital Identity Legislation

Sep 11, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), Congressman John Katko (R-NY), Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) introduced the bipartisan Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020.

The legislation would work to modernize the country’s lagging digital identity infrastructure with a three-pronged approach:

  • It would establish a task force to bring together key federal agencies with state and local government representatives 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.
  • It would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a new framework of standards to guide government agencies when providing digital identity verification services – placing an emphasis on privacy and security.
  • Finally, the bill would establish a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security to allow states to upgrade the systems they use 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. 

 "This bill is a much needed first step to ensuring the United States catches up with the developed world on digital identity," said Congressman Foster. "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."

“COVID-19 has caused a lot of change 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 going online to purchase basic life necessities, this also means more Americans’ personally identifiable information [PII] is at risk of being stolen,” stated Congressman Loudermilk. “The Digital Identity Act of 2020 is critical because it will enable Americans to manage their identifying credentials. 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. I thank my colleague, Rep. Bill Foster, for introducing this bill to help foster digital security innovation so the millions of Americans who shop online are protected.”

“Whether logging into an email account or checking test results from a doctor, people rely on their digital identities every day. Yet even as the range of online services continues to expand, the most authoritative form of ID remains the decidedly analog driver’s license,” said Congressman Langevin, a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and the co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “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. I am proud to join Congressman Foster in introducing the Improving Digital Identity Act to bolster our digital identity ecosystem and make it easier and more secure to carry out online transactions.” 

“I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Improving Digital Identity Act alongside Reps. Foster, Langevin, and Loudermilk,” said Congressman Katko. “By compromising an individual’s digital identity, cybercriminals can steal money and sensitive data. We must take steps to modernize these systems and address vulnerabilities. Our bill does this by forming a task force on securing digital identities, establishing a standard framework for federal agencies when providing digital identity verification services, and creating a grant program for states to modernize their systems.”

“So many services – in banking, health care, government, and e-commerce – depend on knowing ‘who is on the other side’ of a transaction,” said Jeremy Grant, Coordinator of the Better Identity Coalition.  “But our old identity systems have not transitioned well to the digital world – creating friction in commerce, fueling increased fraud and theft, degrading privacy, and hindering the availability of many services online.”

A copy of the bill is available here.