A few years back, the White House had a brilliant idea: Why not create a single, secure online ID that Americans could use to verify their identity across multiple websites, starting with local government services. The New York Times described it at the time as a “driver’s license for the internet.” Sound convenient? It is. Sound scary? It is. Next month, a pilot program of the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” will begin in government agencies in two US states, to test out whether the pros of a federally verified cyber ID outweigh the cons. The goal is to put to bed once and for all our current ineffective and tedious system of using passwords for online authentication, which itself was a cure for the even more ineffective and tedious process of walking into a brick-and-mortar building and presenting a human being with two forms of paper identification. The rub is that online identity verification is heaps more convenient for citizens and cost-effective for government agencies, but it’s also fraught with insecurities; federal and state governments lose billions of dollars a year to fraud, and that trickles down to taxpayers. More