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Government announces digital identity plans

On the 19th July, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announced its plans to create a new system that would make digital identities as trusted and secure as official documents such as passports.

A digital identity is a digital representation of an individual, allowing users to prove who they are during interactions and transactions either online or in person. The technology behind this concept can take a number of forms such as a phone app or other web-based service and has many advantages over traditional paper documents – particularly in reducing identity related crime such as fraud or impersonation.

On the same day, the government also launched a consultation on the proposals for a governing body responsible for ensuring that organisations offering digital identity services adhere to rules, developed with industry and published in draft form earlier this year, that allow such providers to prove they meet the required standards of security and privacy. This body would also have the authority to issue a recognised Trustmark to providers, certifying that they meet the necessary data security standards.

The plan proposes that a range of trusted datasets are utilised – potentially including DVLA and General Register Office records, to maximise the opportunities for individuals to utilise the technology, and that digital identity providers would be required to report annually to the governing body on which users are excluded from using their services and outline what is being done to mitigate this.

The government has stated that the plan will not be mandatory or involve the use of identity cards, and that the consultation is focused on three key issues:

  • The governance system to oversee digital identity and make sure organisations comply with the rules

  • How to allow trusted organisations to make digital checks against authoritative government-held data

  • Establishing the legal validity of digital identities, so people are confident they are as reliable as physical documents like passports or bank statements.

“Digital identities offer a huge opportunity to make checks easier, quicker and more secure, and help people who do not have traditional forms of ID to prove who they are. This technology is a vital building block for the economy of the future, and we’re ensuring that people who choose to use it can have confidence their data will be handled safely.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman

To view or respond to the open consultation, please click here, or to read more about the UK digital identity and attributes trust framework, click here.

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