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Postal Service Pilots 'Federal Cloud Credential Exchange' 54

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the trading-krbtgts dept.
CowboyRobot writes with news about a federal initiative to support federated authentication for government services. From the article: "The U.S. Postal Service will be the guinea pig for a White House-led effort to accelerate government adoption of technologies that allow federal agencies to accept third-party identity credentials for online services. The program involves using services ... through standards like OpenID rather than requiring users to create government usernames and passwords. ... The federated identity effort, known as the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange, is just one piece of a broader Obama administration online identity initiative: the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which aims to catalyze private sector-led development of a secure, digital 'identity ecosystem' to better protect identities online. ... The Postal Service pilot is but one of several different pilots that are part of NSTIC. There are also three cryptography pilots and two non-cryptographic privacy pilots in the works. Each of those pilots is being carried out by multiple private sector organizations ranging from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to AOL to AARP to Aetna."
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Postal Service Pilots 'Federal Cloud Credential Exchange'

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  • by Pseudonym Authority (1591027) <SammyKake@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:39AM (#42516405)
    Pay your taxes with facebook credits!
  • Canada (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:47AM (#42516425)

    Canada has been working on something like this as well, using banks, etc, as external providers and SAML.

  • OpenID? Yeah. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:49AM (#42516433)

    This being a government project, those running it are going to be looking for ID sources that are backed up a company with serious resources, that can be depended upon to remain in business for the next decade at least, and idealy that has some existing history of cooperation with the US government. OpenID meets all these criteria, but Facebook and Google accounts meet them even more strongly. We might joke about 'paying your taxes on facebook' right now, but it is entirely plausible in a few years that may well be a common thing to do.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      OpenID meets all these criteria, but Facebook and Google accounts meet them even more strongly.

      I can still open a Google or FB account with very little personal identification (just a name that sounds plausible). If the govt. pushes for OpenId, then high chances to say "good-bye, pseudonimity".

      • Both of those have a 'real names only' policy. The reason you can open an account with little personal identification is purely down to the practical difficulties of enforcing that policy.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Yea but who is going to want to 'friend' the IRS

    • by flonker (526111)

      This is a solved problem. Specifically, the problem of choosing which companies can legitimately provide proof of identity.

      Allow the use of OpenID, but only by identity providers that put up a bond or have insurance. For example, states that require auto-insurance typically allow self-insurance by putting up a sufficiently large bond. Allow cases of compromised ID to make a claim against the bond/insurance if there is negligence by the identity provider. You can also look at how the the public notary sy

    • by bmo (77928)

      As far as Google and FB are concerned, I am an owl, with a greek first name and latinized second name. (on here, I am a drunk on a steam driven luxury liner). Indeed, FB didn't like my first choice of alias, which was more plausible, but then accepted a scientific name for a particular kind of owl as my name.

      The last time an online service required an actual photocopy of an ID, it was the Chebucto Freenet back in the early 90s. This was because back then you could be more trusting - the environment was muc

      • Suricou. Anagram.

        Raven isn't a name, it's a species identifier. It's a furry thing. Whenever a two-part name is required, it's common in furry to use species as surname.

  • by sgunhouse (1050564) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:00AM (#42516483)

    I didn't know that a state DMV qualified as a "private sector organization". Sure it's not part of the federal government, but it's still public sector.

    • by Yebyen (59663)

      Why do you think it's gone up to $75 to simply take your picture and mail you a new license? The DMV is responsible to pay 100% of its own overhead from the fees that are charged to their patrons/visitors.

      Here's what Google has to say on the matter:

      private sector
      Noun
      The part of the national economy that is not under direct government control.

      I think you're on the right direction, the DMV is a public _service_, but I don't think that makes it definitively public sector. Their records might also be public r

      • You are mistaken. The DMV is completely public sector -- it is a Department of a state (or commonwealth) government. The DMV is a direct agency of the state that identifies, tests, authorizes, licenses, and taxes drivers and vehicles -- any "public service" you get is collateral to their mission. DMV is absolutely an arm of the government. Their top officials are typically appointed by the elected governor.
      • If the DMV is private sector, so is the post office. Actually more so - you don't have to use the post office.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Identity is necessary In order for BigGov to line up the special ones for mass murder.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:30AM (#42516571) Homepage Journal

    The USPS should have gotten into certificates a long time ago. Is it any wonder they're going under?

    • Re:About time! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @08:33AM (#42516811)

      The USPS should have gotten into certificates a long time ago. Is it any wonder they're going under?

      They're going under because they are facing the same pressures as the Royal Mail in the UK - private companies can pick and choose profitable delivery while dumping the unprofitable stuff on the national mail carrier who simply *must* take on the stuff that private companies would ignore as unprofitable. The USPS has it slightly better than the Royal Mail because third party carriers can't put things in your mailbox (there is no such restriction here), but parcel delivery companies are seriously squeezing them.

      Also because you can send something across the whole US for a buck or so and be almost certain it will get there in a couple of days, come rain or shine.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        They're going under because they are facing the same pressures as the Royal Mail in the UK - private companies can pick and choose profitable delivery while dumping the unprofitable stuff on the national mail carrier who simply *must* take on the stuff that private companies would ignore as unprofitable.

        What stops them from pricing package delivery profitably? I was under the impression that parcels were actually making them money, that delivering personal letters cost them money, that delivering spam and magazines was where they made the bulk of their money, and that both spam and magazines are heading to the internet.

        The USPS has it slightly better than the Royal Mail because third party carriers can't put things in your mailbox (there is no such restriction here), but parcel delivery companies are seriously squeezing them.

        I have always despised the USPS monopoly on my mailbox. That is bullshit.

        Also because you can send something across the whole US for a buck or so and be almost certain it will get there in a couple of days, come rain or shine.

        Indeed, it's still under fifty cents to send a first-class letter, with return and forwarding and all that. The USPS

        • You're right with the profitability of both the packages and bulk mail (officially can't call it 'junk' mail as a carrier). However, both the parcels volume has increased and the bulk mail has stayed roughly the same in volume, despite the move to the internet. And as for first class mail, it isn't so much that it costs more to deliver, its more that they're just not getting enough volume like they used to. Of course they could raise prices on first class to make up for volume, but that would probably ca
        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I agree that we should get bills online, but not by email. I specifically don't get any of my bills by email because it is a totally unreliable way to receive anything. For billing to work online, a system that is either pull, or white listed has to be implemented. It could easily be done with existing email tools, but not with bills going into the same mailbox as spammers who are crafting emails to look exactly like legitimate bills.

          An easy way for companies to make the system more secure is to run t
      • Re:About time! (Score:5, Informative)

        by g1powermac (812562) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:16AM (#42517753)
        As a rural mail carrier, I can tell you that the USPS isn't going under because of lack of parcels or profit from them. Actually, parcel volume is way up and profiting quite well. The arrangements we have with both Fedex and UPS for 'last mile' runs of their packages actually works well. Us carriers _have_ to go on our routes anyway, so the extra volume in packages we get costs the post office very little yet makes them a decent profit from both of the other national carriers. What is hurting the post office is two fold. One, regular letter volume is way down due to the advent of online bill payments over the years. And two, the federal gov't is requiring the post office to prepay retirements way ahead of people even coming close to retirement. This is far and beyond any corporation or other federal agency is required to do. This is the biggest problem the post office has at the moment.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I find it confusing that we insist that the national mail service makes a profit. Oh no, The USPS is going broke and can't compete! But we don't complain that the pollice department doesn't make a profit, nor the fire department, nor the library. These institutions are important for a democratic society and are paid for by taxes.

        • by khallow (566160)

          I find it confusing that we insist that the national mail service makes a profit.

          Yes, it's pretty crazy to insist that we get more value out of an endeavor than what we put in.

          • by mvdwege (243851)

            Yes, it is pretty crazy to expect more than mere monetary value to come out of an investment.

            If you're a libertard, that is.

            • by khallow (566160)
              This is a common mistake to make. If it's valuable, then someone will be willing to pay their own money for it, even if the main parties to the transaction can't pay for it directly.

              And the post office needs no such charity. There's a straightforward mechanism of postage by which people can pay for the service.
              • by mvdwege (243851)

                No, that's common Libertard dogma you're spouting.

                Society has more than a monetary benefit from a working post office with universal service. As an example, it enables the smooth functioning of the courts, by being a universal carrier for legal documents.

                If you really think that all benefits from a public service can be accounted for in cash, then that serves only as proof that you're a basement-dwelling teenager with walls full of Ayn Rand posters.

                • by khallow (566160)

                  Society has more than a monetary benefit from a working post office with universal service. As an example, it enables the smooth functioning of the courts, by being a universal carrier for legal documents.

                  So how do you explain the civil court principle of "loser pays court costs."

                  If you really think that all benefits from a public service can be accounted for in cash, then that serves only as proof that you're a basement-dwelling teenager with walls full of Ayn Rand posters.

                  So if we didn't force you to pay taxes, you wouldn't pay for a working court system and law enforcement service? It's just not that valuable to you to voluntarily pay for it with money?

                  • by mvdwege (243851)

                    So how do you explain the civil court principle of "loser pays court costs."

                    Diversion noted. You libertards are so predictable; every time someone demolishes your little fantasies with facts, you change the subject.

                    • by khallow (566160)
                      That's what you got from my post? Seriously? I think you need to worry less about libertards and more about your own thought processes.
                    • by mvdwege (243851)

                      Your last post contained a non-sequitur and a logical fallacy so immediately obvious that the only thing I get from it is that you are almost as bad a libertard as roman_mir.

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      Your last post contained a non-sequitur and a logical fallacy

                      I disagree. You claimed courts were a money sink with benefits that justify the sink. I pointed out that the civil courts didn't have that problem. Their costs are generally covered by payments from the participants in the case.

                      And I still find it interesting that you have to be forced to pay for a good thing.

                      that the only thing I get from it is that you are almost as bad a libertard as roman_mir.

                      Perhaps you should try to bring your irrationality down to his level. At least, he doesn't use retarded terms like "libertard".

                    • by mvdwege (243851)

                      Oh dear. You are not just a libertard, you are an illiterate as well. I claimed no such thing; I claimed a post office with universal service had the non-monetary benefit of supporting the legal system; you do realise why it is that mailing a legal document is considered the same as presenting it in person, don't you?

                      And your second point remains a stupid logical fallacy, so I'm not bothering to answer that. And since you're too stupid to see why that is, you've earned the epithet 'libertard'.

        • The thing is, the USPS is no longer supported by tax dollars. That changed quite a while ago. The postal service has been mandated to at least break even during the subsequent years by congress. And if it wasn't for declining first class mail volume (ie, bill statements and checks going back and forth) and the insane prepayment of retirement mandated by congress, the USPS would be in pretty good shape. On a side note, USPS is not technically a US Federal government agency. It is controlled by congress
      • You also forgot to mention that the USPS has to fund retirement accounts for the next 75 years using their current revenues, which is a crippling blow when you consider that no private organization has to do that, and the employees on the tail end of that range haven't been born yet.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. The Swiss post office has a pretty good thing going: they own SwissSign, which is a fairly common CA here. Certificates are available to the public, including high-security tokens that have the keys generated on the token and signed by the CA (who doesn't get the private key, of course) and are thus linked to you as an individual -- this is useful when needing to verify your identity over the internet. If the USPS could offer similar authentication tokens, it would be great for digitally signing doc

  • Postal Service Tests 'Federal Cloud Credential Exchange'

    TMTLAFY.

  • The USPS should offer banking services like in European countries. Specifically: zero-cost paycheck cashing so the poor with no bank accounts are not leached on by those scumbag check cashing / payday loan bastards.
  • I've argued for years about the need for a single, free authoritative certificate provider, and the Post Office is the obvious candidate. There's no need to do any deep checks or inspection though... Just make sure that the certificate is the same from use to use. Then let the history of usage improve its quality over time; e.g., certificate reputation. If I have paid utility bills and taxes with a certificate over a period of time, you can be pretty sure it's legitimately me. Yes certs can be stolen/lo

  • The headline about piloting things in the cloud really threw me off. I was hoping for something aviation oriented and got something completely unrelated. Ug.
  • Be sure to hurry up and give up all of your freedoms and private for Big Brother... no reason to wait when you can hurry it along and get a little friendly jail time for it too.

    I do not know of a single person whom has not broken the law online even by accident. My 4 yr old niece has already done things not legal.

    The difference between you and a government official is that the government official gets away with it.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @02:04PM (#42521263)

    The USPS has its own planes? That sounds innefficient, no wonder they are losing money.

  • Does this lead to email via USPS, having all the reliability and legal implications as paper mail? Sounds good to me, I do trust them more than the email provided by my ISP and having to buy a stamp would really help with the spam.

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