Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew and Timothy J. J. Brennan
Chapter 19: Leveraging the postal infrastructure for the authentication of individuals toward an online government service provision
The postal system provides a natural platform for transaction enabling, both in a traditional physical sense and, as we shall argue in this chapter, in a digital sense. The existing legal protections offered by the postal system to their customers provide an infrastructure, which if extended into the digital world could provide a secure platform for public eservice transactions. The success of national postal operators (NPOs) providing such a digital public service platform in an effective and secure manner depends on their ability to demonstrate appropriate authentication and verification mechanisms to ensure that customersí correct identity is consistently established. Notions of identity and authentication are fundamental concepts in every marketplace. People and institutions usually need to get to know one another before conducting business. Traditional commerce relies on physical credentials, such as a business license or letter of credit to prove their identity and assure the other party of their validity to engage in a transaction. In online environments, providing such credentials is somewhat more challenging. This arises from the lack of physical presence of participants involved in a transaction. Authentication mechanisms are closely linked to the value of what they protect. For example, many people are comfortable with a username/password authentication for their email.
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