Editorial

Identity Is A Puzzle We Just Have To Solve, One Way Or Another

‘Identity is about to really take off, but first there just has to be some technology that creates trust between parties that comes with a stamp of approval that everyone understands.’ says Frank Joshi, who helps drive UK Identity tech contender Mvine

Posted 17 April 2018 by

Offering a B2B solution to help share content and data between people in different contexts since 2008, Surrey-headquartered Mvine is a Diamond Level sponsor of Think Digital Partners’ upcoming Think Digital Identity for Government 2018. We sat down with its Director, Frank Joshi, to find out more about his company’s message, and why he thinks you should be attending on May 18th
To start with, who is Frank?
I’m probably best known as founder and director of Mvine Limited but what people perhaps don’t know is that I’m also the primary product architect, which means I do the high-level design that my team then implements. I’ve been in IT for close to 30 years, in different sectors, starting in the Document Management world. I bring all that experience to architect solutions to help organisations reap the benefits of the digital economy.
And what is Mvine’s value proposition – your ‘elevator pitch’, as it were?
We build cyber-secure platforms to help solve some of the problems that many people have in being able to share content and data securely and in being able to use tech to prove who they are online and with their mobiles. If how people are identified, authenticated and authorized could be seen as less of an ethical conundrum and more of a technical puzzle I think more progress could be made. The public sector already has a couple of schemes in place to  provide a framework for identity assurance (Government Gateway and GOV.UK Verify), so at least it is not a question of starting from scratch. But I think the real lessons will come from scaling that up and opening that up to increasing private sector re-use of the government’s assurance scheme, GOV.UK Verify.
I’m glad you mentioned Verify so early on in our conversation, Frank, as it’s a hugely important, but also in some ways very controversial and ‘political’, thing in the Identity space right. What is the most useful way to think about all this as it stands right now, Frank – for the public sector practitioner, maybe even the citizen?
Most people are used to the concept of using some form of Identity service: for example, you go into your office in the morning, you log in and you get to work. Ultimately, that concept of trusted access based on levels of assurance needs to be enjoyed by citizens; for Central and Local Government to let citizens be able to access applications and portals for public services and, as importantly, be able to reuse their digital Identity in the private sector, with insurers, utility services, and all other sectors. To do that, technology must be in place between Identity Providers and Service Providers which brokers the connection and the exchange of attributes relating to digital identities.
The problem is there are too many point solutions that were never designed to work together which too often means citizens have to log into six systems with six different IDs. The vision is to have just one reusable digital Identity, with which a citizen can be identified, authenticated and verified which is used over and over again in public sector and private sector. In the tech world, we like to refer to that as identity federation.
I am supporting this event because finding the right answers comes from listening and working on problems together. As a company trying to provide those answers, Mvine genuinely believes that for the citizen, digital Identity has to come through a Government-assured framework and from an open market in which suppliers are recognised as compliant to the framework. An event like this, where delegates can listen to opinions from both sides of the debate and learn what actions they need to take, is invaluable.
Given the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica issues, who on Earth would want to trust their personally identifiable information with anybody ever again? But it is precisely why we need digital Identity that is based on citizen consent to work and to work well. The best way to do that is to get behind the Government-assured identity scheme currently known as Verify but surprisingly few people know much about it. And we see Think Digital Identity for Government 2018 as an important step in the process of raising awareness about it.
What do you think delegates will walk away with, as a result of the information and debates they will encounter on the day? 
I think everyone is waking up to the importance of taking some personal responsibility for their digital Identity and looking after it. Citizens are becoming very wary of that and it poses a big potential challenge for all organisations across the public sector, both in local and central government.
As a result, I think one of the big takeaways for the delegates is going to be: Don’t put off your Identity work – embrace it. Realise you’re going to make some mistakes but make a start. If you don’t do something about it now, when there is a lot of help available, you’re going to be so far behind the curve it will be near impossible to do it affordably.
Thank you so much for sharing your perspective on Identity and why you’re part of the May 18th event, Frank.
If you’d like to hear why tech suppliers like Mvine are so interested in thinks like Verify, make sure you secure your place now for next month’s Think Digital Identity for Government 2018
There are still places available, but they are going fast, so secure your chance to take part in the debate by going here today – and remember your place will be FREE is you are a qualified public sector practitioner. See you on May 18th!