Digital Identities – Our Government’s Plan

In order to make our lives easier as well as boosting the UK’s digital economy – worth £149 billion – the Government sees digital identities as key to supporting economic growth and improving financial inclusion.

Having a digital identity means that you have a digital representation of who you are. This allows you to verify your personal details using modern technology rather than having to prove your identify multiple times to different government departments.

As you know a valid proof of identity is required to access essential services and rights. This is usually affected through a birth certificate, passport and proof of address but with digitisation increasingly central to our times it’s clear that these physical paper-based documents will need to be replaced.

What are the advantages of Digital Identities?

There are five main benefits to introducing Digital Identities:

  • It helps to establish trust in the security of online services which, it’s believed, are the cornerstone for future economies.
  • There should be a reduction in the opportunity for fraudulent activities.
  • A paperless and digital verification of identity should reduce the time and hassle currently experienced by the general public seeking authentication to use a particular service.
  • There should be increased inclusion by giving simplified and trusted access to essential services.
  • It should enable better measurement and monitoring of public services overall.

What is the timing of bringing in Digital Identities?

The introduction of a distributed digital identification programme is not new.  In fact, the roll out of the Government’s Digital ID flagship – the Verify System – was recently halted having actually been launched in 2013 at a cost of £15 million.

The Government is now supporting Verify users until 2023 whilst it works on a new digital identity service which will be mandatory across all government departments and public facing central government services.

To this end, a “trust framework” has been created regarding:

  • The handling and protecting of people’s data by organisations.
  • The standards for encryption and security.
  • The management of accounts.
  • The protection against fraud and misuse.

You can read more about the government’s Digital Identities Trust Framework.

Feedback on this was requested for March 11th this year and it is hoped that this consultative strategy will help to build a collaborative and innovative environment. In this way it is anticipated that there will be answers to the challenge of creating a flexible and trusted single Digital Identities solution which will be workable and accepted in both industry and government.

There are also a number of pilot projects being run.

Canada, Australia, Sweden and New Zealand have taken a similar approach and it’s hoped that this will help to create universal standards so that the UK digital identity can be used abroad and UK businesses can accept the Digital ID’s created in other countries.

The Digital ID and its connection with security screening checks

One possible development of Digital ID is referred to as “attributes” these are pieces of personal information that you can choose to manage and share as required and would typically include not only your name, date of birth and address but also information such as:

  • your right to reside, work or study in a given area.
  • your professional qualifications or employment history.

Other attributes may include your health records, bank account details, national insurance number and so forth.

We hope you have found this helpful. Please follow our blog for more updates of this nature.