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Cybersecurity & Standards

CDT Launches Partnership with NIST, Beeck Center on Digital Identity for Public Benefits Programs

Today CDT, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST,) and the Digital Benefits Network (DBN) at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation announced a new collaboration focused on developing digital identity guidelines to support public benefits programs, such as those designed to help beneficiaries access and pay for food, housing, medical and other basic living expenses. 

In response to heightened fraud and related cybersecurity threats during the COVID-19 pandemic, some benefits-administering agencies began to integrate new safeguards such as individual digital accounts and identity verification, also known as identity proofing, into online applications. However, the use of certain approaches, like those reliant upon facial recognition or data brokers, has raised questions about privacy and data security, due process issues, and potential biases in systems that disproportionately impact communities of color and marginalized groups. 

NIST, DBN, and CDT plan to work in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including federal partners, benefits program administrators, digital identity experts, advocates, and beneficiaries, to design guidance that will help ensure beneficiaries are able to get the life-sustaining benefits they are entitled to while keeping fraud rates low.

You can read more at NIST’s website.