Government plans for a safer way to identify people online

News by Mia Simpson

The UK government has launched plans to make it safer for people to confirm their identity online and it is claimed that this could add three percent to the UK GDP by 2030, which should help the digital economy.

The UK government has launched plans to make it safer for people to confirm their identity online. It is claimed that this could add three percent to the UK GDP by 2030, which should help the digital economy. Digital secretary, Jeremy Wright, said in a government press statement: "We are determined to cement Britain’s place as a world-leading digital economy by creating a regulatory environment which works for consumers, citizens and businesses."

A pilot is to be introduced to help organisations verify people’s identity for services involved with finances. This will allow certain services to be quicker and more efficient by authorising corporations to "digitally check their identity using British passport data" (DCMS press report). In addition, the programme will check whether there is a future in online identity checks. In an email to SC Media UK,Peter Janes, CEO and founder of Shieldpay, commented, "Improving online identity checking is a natural step forward in the increasingly digital world we live in. Not only making it easier for consumers but crucially more secure. It’s this security that is key and must remain front of mind for both government and private sector companies, like banks."

Identity fraud is spreading in the UK and becoming more of an issue. Just last year, fraud prevention company, Cifas, reported 189,000 incidents. Reducing the need for physical documents should help reduce identity fraud attacks says Julian David, techUK CEO, who commented: "techUK and our members are confident that this could reduce fraud and increase security helping drive confidence and prosperity for all." For security, the new plan will not allow any organisation access to government-held data under these proposals. This would mean that no personal data would be shared unless it had already been granted by the individual. All the identity providers would receive, would be a simple yes or no as to whether the document was legitimate.

A new Digital Identity Team will be created between the Department for DCMS and the Cabinet Office. This team will bring the public and private sectors together in a call for evidence. The call for evidence was issued by the government, searching for ideas on how to improve the way companies and people can prove identification online. 

Sarb Sembhi, CTO and CISO at Virtually Informed, told SC Media UK that, "The government’s approach of consulting with the public first is very important, and the goals of this and related projects have long been established in government thinking for many years." He then went on to say, however, "The greatest benefits will come for those who are already using digital identities and or interact with government agencies digitally; the losers are likely to be poorer people who have managed to avoid digital identities, and may be further denied due to their lack of a recognised identity."

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Video and interviews