Just suppose to get into trouble because of something that happened online: serious trouble, like law or big money - not just an argument in your social group or a dispute about the intellectual property of something that was published somewhere. And suppose that you need to prove your identity, beyond doubt, in an online environment: it would be important to have an undisputed authority to sets things right, wouldn't it?
My point is that without serious identity management there cannot be serious interaction. Of course I can "like" a candidate on Facebook, but I would not trust my Prime Minister to be appointed by counting his "likes".
we seek to enable a future where individuals can voluntarily choose to obtain a secure, interoperable, and privacy-enhancing credential (e.g., a smart identity card, a digital certificate on their cell phone, etc) from a variety of service providers – both public and private – to authenticate themselves online for different types of transactions (e.g., online banking, accessing electronic health records, sending email, etc.)
[from the White House blog]
A crystal-clear step forward in the definition of online citizenship, in my view. Can we imagine of a better entity or organization to provide us with a tool to assert our online identity? The country to which you belong certifies your rights and cares for them, asserts and protects your freedom and provides you with means to prove your identity in the real world (and has the authority to check it). It is my belief that the more the web is part of the real world, the more it makes sense to be there as a citizen, and not just a user.
Lifehacker readers seem not to be of the same advice, which I - frankly speaking - consider foolish.
Should we trust Facebook or Google (or any other private entity) better than our own countries and, moreover, to do that for free?
On the other hand, if this could be considered a serious indicator of the public opinion, there must be a huge opportunity space opening up for new business in the field of online identity (paid) services.