GPO signs on to using PKI

The Government Printing Office by mid-summer will authenticate government documents using a public-key infrastructure and digital signatures.

Judy Russell, the GPO's superintendent of documents and managing director of information dissemination, yesterday said the office will apply the technology to all documents agencies submit to www.gpoaccess.gov.

'We want to mark content as it comes in and to take the final product and digitally sign it so others can determine it is authentic,' Russell said at the Federal Library and Information Center Committee Conference in Washington. 'It is essential to use these technologies and others so people can evaluate the authenticity of the information and rely on it.'

Russell said GPO and other agencies are concerned about how to make certain users know the information is authentic after it leaves the agency or other trusted Web site. She said it is important for users to know whether the information is original or has been changed.

Once a document is digitally signed, users can use a free software tool from the technology vendors to determine the document's authenticity.

'The digital signature can be visible or not,' Russell said.

GPO also is considering digital watermarks for print publications or electronic master documents. Users could employ a reader to display the watermark to determine authenticity.

Russell said the need to use digital signatures will increase as agencies continue to submit more document electronically.

GPO also is cross-certifying on the federal bridge, which lets agencies accept other PKI certificates. Russell said GPO is 'fairly far along' in the process to cross-certify, but she didn't know when the process would be completed.

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