Government maps out future use of digital identities

The Government has today published new plans which will govern the use of digital identities and revolutionise conveyancing transactions when proving identity.

The Government’s new draft rules is to help build trust in the use of digital identities without the need for physical documents. The aim is to make it quicker and easier for people to verify who are they are, where they live and how old they are by using modern technology that is trusted as much as using passports and bank statements.

It will radically transform transactions such as buying a house, when people are often required to prove their identity multiple times to a bank, conveyancer or estate agent, and buying age-restricted goods online or in person.

The general public have been invited to contribute to draft rules around data protection, security and inclusivity.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said:

“Establishing trust online is absolutely essential if we are to unleash the future potential of our digital economy.

“Today we are publishing draft rules of the road to guide organisations using new digital identity technology and we want industry, civil society groups and the public to make their voices heard.

“Our aim is to help people confidently verify themselves while safeguarding their privacy so we can build back better and fairer from the pandemic.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport release says:

“The new ‘trust framework’ lays out the draft rules of the road organisations should follow. It includes the principles, policies, procedures and standards governing the use of digital identity to allow for the sharing of information to check people’s identities or personal details, such as a user’s address or age, in a trusted and consistent way. This will enable interoperability and increase public confidence.

“The framework, once finalised, is expected to be brought into law. It has specific standards and requirements for organisations which provide or use digital identity services including:

  • ” Having a data management policy which explains how they create, obtain, disclose, protect, and delete data;

  • ” Following industry standards and best practice for information security and encryption;

  • ” Telling the user if any changes, for example an update to their address, have been made to their digital identity;

  • “Where appropriate, having a detailed account recovery process and notifying users if organisations suspect someone has fraudulently accessed their account or used their digital identity;

  • “Following guidance on how to choose secure authenticators for their service.”

The move has been welcomed by industry and civil society groups.

Stuart Young, Managing Director at Etive Technologies, said:

“This framework is key to developing a trusted digital identity market that will make people’s lives easier and save businesses time and money. The engagement and input from the legal regulators such as the SRA, CLC, CILEX and the Law Society over the last 12 months has really helped drive this project forward.

“Understanding the challenges and issues faced by conveyancers is key to the success of this project, so the additional input we’ve had from solicitor and conveyancing firms has proved invaluable. I think it’s agreed we all want to work together to ensure we can reduce the risks associated with identity verification through accredited identity providers, reduce friction for consumers, reduce failed transactions and ultimately help speed up the process. As a result of this we hope to have the first draft Scheme published by the end of April 2021.”

Emma Lindley, Co-founder of Women In Identity, said:

“We believe that digital identity systems should be inclusive and accessible for anyone that chooses to use them.

“This collaborative approach by the government in designing the trust framework is a step in the right direction towards accountability across all stakeholders who are involved, and ensures no one is left behind.”

The Government’s aim is to ‘help people confidently verify themselves while safeguarding their privacy so we can build back better and fairer from the pandemic.’

Read in full here.

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