A new government initiative will examine the pros and cons of a single, secure online ID for Americans, it was announced. A pilot program will be launched next month to test the system. The government's aim is to end the need for multiple passwords, which will reduce the bureaucracy and strain across multiple government departments. It is also a way to get rid of the annoying "Forgot your password?" route you have to take when you can't remember your Tumblr password.
In theory (and if we set aside the potentially Orwellian implications), it is is an excellent idea. With so many sites requiring user accounts - a number the grows by the day, maybe even less - it has become a near-impossible task to remember so many passwords. Password managers are available, but are not completely trusted. A govenment-sanctioned master password, on the other hand, is a completely different kettle of fish.
Realistically, the government proposal doesn't quite hold up. Given the cost of fraud each year, the government cannot absolutely guarantee that a single authentication system will hold up against potential security breaches. It is not only costly for them, but the taxpayers who have to pay their part are also in question. That said, the aforementioned Big Brother-style threat such a system can impose, is only going to add to the government's already-questionable reputation. All in all, the results of this program, whatever they may be, are going to be polarizing more than anything else.