Need to build trust in Identity and communicate its benefits better to the public emerge as the twin conclusions of UK’s ID conference

In our final round-up of last week’s very successful ‘Think Digital Identity For Government 2020,’ we look at what we heard about the future of SSI and other key ID problems – as well as look to the future

Posted 20 February 2020 by Gary Flood

No-one probably expected an answer to three questions set for speakers at last Thursday’s packed Think Digital Identity For Government 2020 – the right approach to deployment of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), what other regions of the world beyond Europe’s Digital Identity experiences can tell us in the UK, and what our ID Futures will look like.

But at least we all came away with plenty of food for thought. Thus, on the SSI front, in a panel involving representatives of both independent researchers and thinkers on ID, vendors (including show sponsor Accenture) and public sector users, delegates heard a range of views reflecting the complexity of the SSI market right now.

For Sandy Porter, for example, Founder of security consultancy Avoco, “SSI is becoming quite a confusing thing, and we’ve had 20 years of it being different things to different people. I don’t think we really know what it is yet,” while for fellow-panelist James Canham, Managing Director – Border Services at Accenture, the question surely has to be about, “How do I get back the ownership of my Identity?”

Given that another speaker on the panel, independent ID thinker Arwen Smit, mused that SSI has to be “almost a form of decentralised Identity,” then clearly the debate looks set to roll on for quite a while longer. Another topic of on-going interest is the International aspect of ID, and we heard from two excellent speakers on that front with direct exposure to overseas experience there, Colin Wallis, Executive Director of The Kantara Initiative, and well-known Identity Influencer Katryna Dow, who now heads personal data and distributed ledger platform Meeco.

Much food for thought was provided, but for many people the climax of the day was the Futures panel. There, we learned how:

  • “Data is the at the centre as we go forward” (Cheryl Stevens MBE, DWP Digital)
  • “Machine Learning could emerge as a way to check your behaviour against your claimed Identity” and “Should we in Government be using ID to lessen online harms, like curb the number of fake online identities compulsive gamblers seem to keep creating?” (Kevin Cunnington, Director General of the International Government Service and Digital Envoy for the UK)
  • “Has the long-awaited ‘ID killer use case’ emerged… and is it the digital driving licence on your mobile?” (Mike Summers, e-Government Director, Smartmatic)
  • “Will we end up, no with IDPs, but ‘attribute providers’ or ‘ID claim providers’?” and “There is a potential interest in SSI in [DWP’s] demographic, but not for now – maybe in ten years?” (Stevens)
  • “It’s easy to look at clever technology, but its users at the front end of Society will always be followed by a long tail” (Cunnington)
  • “There’s real danger with e-voting that if you don’t have a passport or a driving licence you could get disenfranchised. We have to do something about that” (Summers)
  • “Swedish-style levels of ID take up won’t happen here as we have so many people without a bank account or a smartphone (Cunnington).

If there were any really solid predictions out of this (totally appropriate for the ID problem set!), perhaps we all went away with the insight that to make an ID ecosystem really work for us all in the UK with where we are, we need to better communicate with the public exactly why ID would help them – and so build trust for the next phase of Digital Identity.

These are trends we certainly agree with as the organisers of the show – and hope we continue to have YOUR trust to share this space with you to discuss them.

So we regretfully close our coverage of another successful Think Digital Identity For Government!

But… drum roll, please…

It is with great pleasure that we can confirm that the next Think Digital Identity For Government conference is now locked into the calendar!

We have confirmation that the next event in the UK’s only ID conference that addresses the concerns of the UK public sector is opening its doors at the same convenient Westminster venue, One Great George St, at 8.45am on Thursday, November 12th.

A new conference website will soon start being populated, but in the meantime we can share the booking details if you want to be super-organised:


We would like to thank all our sponsors, great speakers, partners, advisors and facilitators but most of all, you the ID community delegates, as we couldn’t do any of this without you.

See you in November, then. But don’t forget we also have another Think Digital Partners event lined up, albeit on a very different topic: Think Cybersecurity For Government 2020.

Go here if you want details about that show, set for Friday, 24th April, sponsored by endpoint security leader Tanium, and which will take place, again, at our excellent preferred venue of One Great George St.

Why not go to both? We won’t stop you 🙂