As unfashionable as it is to suggest a public sector solution to a problem that is (allegedly) being handled by the private sector, I think that personal certificates, at least, are something that governments, particularly at the state or province level, are well-positioned to provide. There's already a level of institutional trust when it comes to these agencies, particularly drivers' license bureaus, when it comes to identity verification. At least in the USA, a state-issued driver's license is accepted as proof of individual identity virtually everywhere, as is a federally issued passport. Since the state and federal governments already have identity verification mechanisms (via birth records, etc.) in place, the most obnoxious part of trying to get a certificate validated (all the various dicking around with notaries and the like) can be avoided. Wouldn't it be great if you could get a CDROM with a state-signed certificate (in the various necessary formats at the same time you got your drivers' license or passport? You've already done all the legwork of providing identity documentation to these agencies. For businesses, processes like filing formal incorporation papers or sales tax licenses could serve a similar purpose. Why not leverage this? It's too late for this to happen, though. There are already entrenched private firms with a business model to protect, and, as we've seen with the record companies, an industry with even a demonstrably broken business model will fight like a cornered animal to protect its turf.
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