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Foster, Katko, Langevin, Loudermilk Introduce Bipartisan Digital Identity Legislation

Jun 30, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — 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 2021. 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. 

“It's time for the United States to catch up to the rest of the developed world on digital identity,” said Congressman Foster. "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."

“We live in a digital world where modern conveniences don’t come without heightened vulnerabilities,” said Rep. John Katko, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. “Digital identify verification services can help bridge the gap and provide consumers with a more secure online experience. Our bill allows federal, state, and local leaders to work together to build our digital identity infrastructure, while improving privacy and reducing fraud. I’m proud to once again join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort.”

“As Americans increasingly rely on the internet throughout the course of daily life, we lag behind our international counterparts when it comes to leveraging digital identity solutions to improve our security online,” said Rep. Langevin, co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “I’m proud to partner with Congressman Foster on this critical bill to bring the United States up to speed on digital identity. We must do more to protect Americans virtual security, and digital identity is a foundational building block of that effort.”

“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,” stated Congressman Loudermilk. “The Digital Identity Act of 2021 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 reintroducing this bill to help foster digital security innovation so the millions of Americans who shop online are protected.”

“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. The events of the last year have underscored the inadequacies of the nation’s digital identity infrastructure – this bill will tackle them head on to prevent costly cybercrime, give businesses and consumers new confidence, improve inclusion, and foster growth and innovation across our economy.”

A copy of the bill is available here.