Digital networks offer people new opportunities. Taking advantage of these opportunities, however, will depend on whether we can improve our ability to authenticate identity online. Weak authentication distorts social interactions, security, and business on the Net. Without better authentication, we will forgo many opportunities and the Net will remain a place that holds considerable risk.
Authentication technologies that can create digital credentials that are secure, but not necessarily trustworthy. This anomaly explains how we ended up where we are today – in a situation where we have very strong credentials that are not widely trusted and therefore not widely used. The problem – and the solution – to authentication do not lie with technology. Better authentication requires expanding trust, but trust is in short supply on the Internet. This paper explores what is needed for a solution.