President Barack Obama has handed over authoritative duties for a White House cybersecurity effort to the U.S. Commerce Department.
The official announcement regarding the Commerce Department’s new duties was announced last weekend. This cybersecurity movement is being pushed by the White House in order to improve online security measures.
White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said it's "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize efforts toward creating an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet.
Tech website CNet first reported on this news. The website stated that this decision "effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security."
CNet also said, "The move also is likely to please privacy and civil-liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies."
The announcement came at an event at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Schmidt spoke at the event as well.
Gary Locke spoke on the Obama’s administration drafting of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. An early version was publicly released last summer.
"We are not talking about a national ID card," Locke said at the Stanford event. "We are not talking about a government --controlled system. 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."
Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. "I don't have to get a credential, if I don't want to," he said.
There's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge," and "we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this," Schmidt added.
The Commerce Department will be setting up a national program office to work on this project, Locke also said.
Previous rumors about the White House cybersecurity effort brought up a different interpretation. Online users would have to acquire smart cards or digital certificates.
These online IDs would prove that online users are who they say they are. They would also be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.
Members of Congress have continually pledged to lock down online borders and better protect networks.
"The number one priority facing them right now is to present the President with some sort of comprehensive cybersecurity bill," said Jordy Yager, a reporter for the Hill. "That's something that the Senate has been working on for a number of years and that the House has really buckled down on within the last six to eight months to try to get the President something before the end of this Congress."