Tuesday, June 11, 2024

NIST begins joint research on Secure Digital ID for public benefits

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg has embarked on a collaborative project to adapt NIST's digital identity guidelines to the administration of public benefits programs. These include programs that help beneficiaries pay for food, housing, medical and other living expenses. The initiative gained momentum due to large-scale fraud related to COVID-19 pandemic benefits.

NIST is teaming up with the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, and the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology, on the project. The partners are attempting to balance security concerns with potential impacts on privacy, "due process," and "potential biases in systems that disproportionately impact communities of color and marginalized groups."

"To improve benefits delivery to the U.S. public, it is vital that agencies balance access and security," Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio said in a statement this morning. "Different populations have different needs, barriers and circumstances that must be considered, and this collaboration will bring together a diverse set of communities to do just that."

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