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Support broadens for Improving Digital Identity Act

CHIME and various technology-related stakeholders have sent individual and joint letters to Congress in support of the Digital Identity Act.
By admin
Dec 13, 2022, 9:00 AM

As Congress works toward finalizing its year-end spending bill, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and eight other groups have endorsed advancement of the Improving Digital Identity Act of 2022 (S.4528). The bipartisan bill seeks a government-wide effort to develop highly secure, interoperable systems that enable digital identity verification.

The legislation, introduced in July 2022 and referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, aims to bridge a security gap between physical and digital identity credentials. Nationally recognized credentials such as driver’s licenses, passports, and birth certificates would be adapted for use in digital systems. Cybersecurity experts note that digital credentials are difficult to steal, alter, or forge.

Establishing reliable digital identity verification systems in public and private sectors would reduce identity theft and fraud, enable trusted transactions and ensure equitable access to digital identity technology, according to the act’s language.

In a letter of support to bill co-sponsors Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), CHIME stated that lack of an accurate and efficient means of linking personal identities with corresponding medical record data “is a major threat to patient safety.” CHIME added, “As our healthcare system moves toward further nationwide health information exchange…consistency in digital identity verification remains conspicuously absent, and the standards must be set by the federal government.”

Related story: Congressional leaders encourage CIOs to share views on policies

Digital identity legislative action items

S.4528 calls for a task force within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate efforts among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies to improve access and enhance security between physical and digital identity credentials. Within 180 days of enactment, the task force would submit recommendations on priorities for systems that enable digital identity verification; conformance to a standards-based architecture; methods to leverage existing technologies (e.g., digital driver’s licenses and distributed ledgers); and further development of systems and processes that reduce identity fraud.

Further, within a year of enactment, grants would be awarded at all levels of government to “implement meaningful digital identity verification cybersecurity, data protection, and privacy safeguards consistent with, or in excess of, management guidance issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.” At least 10% of grant funds would be devoted to assisting individuals with obtaining identity credentials or verification services.

CHIME also joined with the following groups in a separate letter to House and Senate majority and minority leaders:

  • Bank Policy Institute
  • Better Identity Coalition
  • Cybersecurity Coalition
  • Electronic Transactions Association
  • Identity Theft Resource Center
  • Software & Information Industry Association
  • TechNet
  • S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center

“By prioritizing digital identity infrastructure, we will prevent costly cybercrime, help ensure Americans never become identity theft victims, give businesses and consumers new confidence, and foster growth and innovation across the country,” the signatory groups stated.

Copies of the group letter were sent to House and Senate Appropriations Committees, as well as the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Oversight & Reform.

Related story: FDA bill passes without medical device cybersecurity requirements

Frank Irving is a Philadelphia-based content writer and communications consultant specializing in healthcare and technology.

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