The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has voted to advance the Improving Digital Identity Act, which aims to modernize the United States’ digital identity infrastructure and protect Americans from having their personal information stolen.

Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., John Katko, R-N.Y., Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., introduced the legislation in July 2021. Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., along with Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo, introduced a companion bill in the Senate on July 13.

The bill 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 when he introduced the bill. “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,” he added.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.