WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama Administration is considering the use of individual mandates in future legislative proposals if the President should win re-election this year. One of the first proposals would require all American citizens to register a profile on a federally approved social networking website.
According to unnamed sources close to the administration, the idea could be introduced in the President’s next State of the Union Address.
The move for the Administration to consider such a measure comes from the optimism the White House holds for a pending Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the President’s signature health care legislation. Mr. Obama himself has said before that he feels the Supreme Court will rule in his favor and uphold the individual mandate in the so-called “Obamacare” to be legal.
Under the premise that the government is granted the authority to compel an individual to enter into a contract with a health insurance company and subsequently participate in a market, it would then be granted similar authority to compel Americans to participate in social networking.
The basic framework of the plan strives to consolidate the resources of the internet into One Simple Sign-on, or OSS. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have expanded their presence on thousands of websites in recent years with buttons labeled “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Twitter”. For web users who use a variety of websites for activities such as shopping, chatting, and entertainment, the ability to sign into multiple websites using just one sign on simplifies the process. Users don’t have to set up separate accounts for separate websites when it’s all tied to their social networking sign-on.
The OSS initiative would take the practice to the next level by attaching American’s social networking id to websites operated by the IRS, Department of Labor, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Commerce, and a host of other governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.
Under the OSS initiative, patients entire medical histories could be accessed through a Department of Health & Human Services by logging in with a Facebook sign-on. Ideally, the information would be restricted to the doctor or medical professional who is authorized through a medical history application within the social networking website. Patients could even list their status as an organ donor on their chosen site.
The proposed plan wouldn’t be limited to just governmental services though.
The OSS initiative could also be used by educational institutions to post academic performance information such test grades and transcripts directly onto a student’s profile.
Banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions could utilize the OSS tool to expand their services, and complete credit reporting.
The President’s One Simple Sign-on initiative comes with what could potentially be a hefty price tag.
Today, social networking sites don’t fall into the jurisdiction of the government where they can be told what features should or should not be available to it’s users. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus put extensive measures in place to make their sites safe and secure to use. With OSS and all of the potential benefits it promises, websites would have to take additional steps to not only increase security, but also to design, build, and launch additional applications to handle the integrated features which are being proposed. Such efforts could lead to the near extinction to free social networking sites.
Making sites like Facebook a pay site wouldn’t be the only drawback though. Aside from the risk of increased phishing and hacking, response times would be expected to decline. Accounts which can be instantly set up today would take approximately six weeks to obtain full functionality under OSS as a result of the implied regulations. The Federal Communication Commission would carry primary oversight of OSS, however given the widespread reach of the initiative into every corner of American’s lives, the lines of responsibility could easily resemble a plate of spaghetti noodles.
All of the details and costs of OSS won’t be available until it can make it’s way through Congress and eventually onto the President’s desk for signature. Even then, the measure would have to be at least revenue neutral for the President to even consider signing it.
Once the President’s back burner idea was made public today, the blogosphere and social networking sites alike were filled with dispatches from proponents and opponents of the measure.
Those in favor of the plan displayed a sense of elation over the fact that their on-line activity could be consolidated by OSS. On the other side of the measure, opponents of the measure voiced the same objections to OSS that they’ve voiced for Obamacare.
On Twitter, a poster using the handle @MonkeyRump52 tweeted “Where do those egg headed, pencil pushing, bean counters in the government get off with tellin’ me I HAVE to set up a facebook or twitter a” The poster’s tweet was cut off when it exceeded the 142 character limit imposed by Twitter.
A Facebook user suggested that the implied regulations behind OSS could result in the creation of “Status Update Panels” which would govern the content of what people post on their profiles.
Several posters on myspace displayed a failure to understand the nature of a mandate.
Users on all reported sites expressed a genuine concern that an inevitable governmental takeover of approximately a sixth of the internet could be devastating to the quality of social networking in general. As one Facebook poster put it: “Public housing, public assistance, public schools, public restrooms, public internet. ‘Nuff said.”
Provided OSS could be passed and integrated into American society, it could be very difficult for opponents of the measure to strike it down. Taking the matter to the Supreme Court would be considered moot in the event the individual mandate of Obamacare is determined to be constitutional. It would take a President and a Congress willing to repeal the law in order to discontinue the initiative.
In the meantime, One Simple Sign-on is just an idea in the mind of a man who hopes to be re-elected this fall. If we wins, OSS will join Obamacare as signature pieces of legislation which either have or will polarized a nation.