The UK government has expanded the number of providers for its identity assurance program, Gov.uk Verify. The addition of new vendors will help to address the grumblings about the lack of choice in attribute providers. However, more emphasis needs to be placed on the addition of personal data if the service is to help support some of the government’s wider ambitions for service transformation.
Expanding attributes, not suppliers, is the key to unlocking identity
Gov.uk Verify, the UK’s identity assurance program, has been criticized for focusing too much on driving down the cost of attribute verification and not having a larger pool of attribute providers to pull from. Expanding the range of providers will go some way to addressing these complaints.
Expanding the range of providers to include Barclays, GB Group, Royal Mail, and Morpho is important. However, citizens will increasingly have to share a wider range of attributes as more sensitive government services shift to digital channels, and the ability to provide extra layers of assurance, through the addition of more personal data, will become more important to the way services are transformed.
Personal Data Stores (PDSs) are one way to address this, but PDSs have so far been hard to monetize and uptake has been limited. Greater potential lies in developing Identity Attribute Exchanges (IAE). In theory, IAEs act as hubs that offer additional attributes about an individual to organizations looking to verify the individual’s identity. Allowing individuals an element of control over their data, similar to that provided by a PDS, would be required, but without the need for individuals to create hubs themselves.
Most public sector organizations would settle for the basic services of Verify.gov today, but in the future they will demand increasing levels of assurance. One council testing the idea is Warwickshire County Council: it has been piloting IAE services for a limited range of council services in partnership with vendor Mydex.
For IAE to work, more government agencies need to be involved, as the provision of additional data attributes by local authorities or central government departments would go a long way to addressing the ability of public sector organizations to direct citizens to other services that they are entitled to use.
ID Management for Public Services: Opportunities and Pitfalls, IT0007-000767 (September 2014)
“Holyrood creates a national identity register in all but name,” IT0007-000805 (March 2015)
Chris Pennell, Practice Lead, Public Sector