Is DCMS planning to move Digital Identity well on from GOV.UK Verify?

‘Computer Weekly”s latest claimed scoop on the future of the project: ‘plan aims to open up digital identity market – and might kill off GOV.UK Verify’

Posted 24 September 2018 by Gary Flood

The core of possible Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) proposals to boost the UK’s digital identity ecosystem could be a plan to “open up government databases via APIs to the private sector” – a move that could also “administer the last rites to” the current official way we’re doing Digital Identity in this country, GOV.UK Verify.

The claims come in Computer Weekly‘s editor Bryan Glick‘s blog last week, where he states that, “Under the proposals, databases containing vital identity information such as passports and driving licences could be accessed through APIs by identity providers. Any company seeking to offer digital IDs for online transactions would, in theory, be able to quickly and cheaply validate data against recognised government information – the closest thing the UK has to a ‘gold standard’ for identity data.”

Such a system would not mean third parties accessing data directly, writes Glick, only checking that ID data provided by an individual to that third party is correct – and which would also represent a reversal of the principles underlying Verify, which has been based on the idea of a small set of GDS partners being allowed to validate citizen IDs digitally.

Another strong argument the Department is pushing with, claims Glick: “DCMS is understood to believe its plan would be significantly cheaper to run than Verify – potentially costing a fraction of a penny per transaction. Using Verify, by contrast, GDS pays its pool of identity providers on average about £5 for each user they successfully register.”

He also warns that, “GDS’s existing contracts with the Verify IDPs are understood to be ending soon, and if the DCMS proposal is accepted it seems unlikely those IDP contracts would need to be renewed other than to manage existing users as the service they provide is wound down.”

DCMS has been conducting a review of UK Digital Identity plans since June.

We have as yet no official response from either GDS or DCMS to these claims