‘It would be a crying shame if we had to throw Verify away’

Despite all the dropped balls around GOV.UK Verify, is Government still our best hope for reinvigorating the Identity space?

Posted 18 June 2019 by Gary Flood

“There are many things about Verify I would like to see last, and the standards side has been one of the best things about it. But yes, 2019 is a make-or-break year for conversations about where we go next with it – there has to be ‘translation’ of our ideas for a wider base.”

Thus thinks one of the most important stakeholders in the UK Digital ID world – that we have a lot to do.

The question is – do we have time?

The observation came at June 7th’s Think Digital Identity For Government 2019, where buyers and sellers of Digital ID solutions across the public and the private sectors gathered in Westminster to discuss multiple aspects of the current – and future – UK ID landscape.

And indeed, many delegates had packed the hall to listen to this one particular discussion on the ‘Public-Private Intersections of Identity,’ featuring as it did a heavyweight ID Whitehall buyer, Cheryl Stevens, DWP Digital’s Deputy Director, Identity & Trust Services, highly-experienced ID trend commentator and practitioner Susan Morrow, Head of Research & Development at Avoco Secure, and flying the flag for the private sector Andy Renshaw, Senior Director, Fraud and Identity at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

Stevens was in the fact the source of our introductory quote, which is quite hopeful – but we do have to balance it with a somewhat more sanguine from the private sector’s Morrow, who bluntly declared, “The [UK] ID landscape is a mess, filled with all sorts of different things. There are definite issues when it comes to accessing Verify by a commercial entity, we do indeed need that ‘translation’ of its levels of security for such entities – but it would be a crying shame if we can’t keep on using Verify and all this work was wasted.”

Morrow’s proposed solution – against what she sees as widespread distrust of government, but which is still a reality where government is in the best position to “reinvigorate the Identity space” – is to re-engage with citizens for the next generation of ID, right from the design stage.

The rest of the panel agreed – with Stevens going one step further:

“One of the most exciting aspects of 2020 [when ID will be wholly supported by the private sector alone] is that IDPs [commercial Identity Providers] will be opening up the market and exposing what they’re good at.”

So a complex ID scene, with no certain answers yet, the conversation concluded – but one where there is an increasing openness in government to have “difficult conversations over tea and biscuits” about what to do next, it seems.