Technology, business and civil society sectors have welcomed government’s plans to enable the use of digital identity across the UK. The government plans to update existing laws and a new set of guiding principles for policy development.
The proposals come after it was revealed 2.6 million people made a claim for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme online since its launch on 13 May 2020. Previously, 1.4 million had no prior digital identity credentials and needed to pass through HMRC’s identity verification service.
Digital identity checking
The government plans to update laws on identity checking to enable digital identity to be used as widely as possible. It has now issued a call for evidence published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport alongside the Cabinet Office.
It will consult on developing legislation for consumer protection relating to digital identity, specific rights for individuals. Legislation is expected to provide redress if something goes wrong, and set out where the responsibility for oversight should lie. It will also consult on the appropriate privacy and technical standards for administering and processing secure digital identities.
Fraud prevention analyst Cifas, estimated a 32% rise in identity fraud over five years in their 2019 Fraudster Report. The report estimated 223,163 cases recorded in that year alone – up 18% on the previous year.
A new government Digital Identity Strategy Board has also developed six principles to strengthen digital identity delivery and policy in the UK.
The six principles are:
- Privacy – When personal data is accessed people will have confidence there are measures in place to ensure their confidentiality and privacy. For instance, a supermarket checking a shopper’s age, a lawyer overseeing the sale of a house or someone applying to take out a loan.
- Transparency – When an individual’s identity data is accessed when using digital identity products they understand by who, why and when. For example, being able to see how your bank uses your data through digital identity solutions.
- Inclusivity – People who want or need a digital identity should be able to obtain one. For example, not having documentation such as a passport should not be a barrier to not having a digital identity.
- Interoperability – Setting technical and operating standards for use across the UK’s economy to enable international and domestic interoperability.
- Proportionality – User needs and other considerations such as privacy and security will be balanced. This is to ensure digital identity can be used with confidence across the economy.
- Good governance – Digital identity standards will be linked to government policy and law. Any future regulation will be clear, coherent and align with the government’s wider strategic approach to digital regulation. For example, firms verifying your identity will need to comply with laws around how they access and store data.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said, “Digital technology is helping us through the pandemic. It continues to improve the way we live, work and access vital services.
“We want to make it easier for people to prove their identity securely online so transactions can become even quicker. It has the potential to add billions to our economy.”
Enterprise Times: What this means for business
Increasingly, people are required to prove their identity to access all types of services. This includes buying age-restricted items on and offline, opening an online bank account or registering at a new GP surgery. Yet Identity-related security breaches are on the rise.The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated society’s reliance on digital technology. As a result, it has exasperated the need for consumer rights around digital identity to be strengthened. This will enable wider use across the country and possible adoption in new areas. The Digital identity Strategy Board new principles on paper should boost confidence in use of digital identity. However, the proof will be in the eating and the actual details of how the government implements these fine words.