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‘Project Verify’ begs quite a few questions

Project Verify is a new initiative by the Mobile Authentication Taskforce (a combined effort of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) to stop the use of passwords when logging into apps, accounts, websites and more. It would also end “multi-factor authentication methods such as SMS or hardware tokens,” according to a new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

For West Virginia University, this could mean an end to DUO Mobile.

The first advertisements for Project Verify attest that passwords, even secure ones, are the trojan horse for account breaches (Facebook, in particular). The solution? Verizon’s page on Project Verify explains that your ID would be backed by unique account and device details and protected with mobile network authentication— all managed by your SIM card. The site continues, “Customers control the information they share and consent to how it’s used.”

The effort is aimed to maintain neutral grounds— “not tied to any one product, platform or industry group,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Americans should consider whether efficiency is the most important factor when deciding how to protect personal information. Is there value in having one sign-in through your mobile phone carrier? Does this make it easier for information breaches?

What about people who may not have a cell phone, but access to the internet through a laptop or desktop computer? What about those who use public technology (like going to a library)?

The problem that many of us face now is that so many different platforms use such different log-in methods, the different systems are difficult to keep up with. Will Project Verify replace those, or just be another addition to systems we can’t keep track of—thus negating the argument for efficiency?

One interesting point by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is the severe impact of your telephone number becoming as critical to your person as your social security number. When cell phone is controlled completely by your mobile carrier, is it possible the taskforce remains neutral in their services?

The Verge poses another important question: if someone compromises your one account (or in this case, device), are those more serious security liabilities than we have now?

Attention by consumers to the unfolding of Project Verify is crucial. Initiatives like this, with the power of four dominant companies behind it, either takes time or happens immediately–sometimes without any consumer-knowledge at all. Do more research to know if opting-in or opting-out is right for you— or if you even have the choice. Decide for yourself where the line is drawn between efficiency and protected privacy.  

Maura is a senior at West Virginia University, studying honors journalism and leadership. She was the president of Her Campus at WVU from 2018-2019, interns with ESPN College GameDay and works as a marketing/communication assistant for the Reed College of Media. On campus, she has written opinion for WVU's Daily Athenaeum, served as the PR chair for WVU Society of Professional Journalists and was a reporter for WVUToday. She teaches leadership classes for the Honors College and is an active member of both the Honors Student Association and Helvetia Honorary. Maura is an avid fan of The New Yorker, (most) cities and the first half of late-night talk shows.
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