Editorial

Digital passport checks underway

Matt Warman provides update on Document Checking Service pilot

Posted 18 November 2020 by

The Government has announced that digital passport checks have begun, with more than 500 checks completed over the last few weeks.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman, provided the update following the launch of a pilot scheme of a new digital identity checking service, the Document Checking Service (DCS), in August.

He said the service was important as peoples’ passports are often used as a form of ID. However, in they can give away “far more data than is really needed”. Warman said the government was “working to improve this situation.”

He pledged greater collaboration between the Government and private companies.

“We have been working closely with the Government Digital Service and Her Majesty’s Passport Office to see whether organisations outside of Government can use real-time passport validity checks to build useful digital services by making the Document Checking Service available to a group of companies through a pilot. The pilot will run until summer 2021,” he said.

Regarding the checks, he says six companies have been onboarded and are either preparing to connect to the Document Checking Service via this pilot or are now offering a live service. More, he says, will be joining shortly.

Warman says no organisation has been given direct access to Government-held data. Instead, they receive a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response as to whether their customers’ passport is valid. This helps to protect people’s privacy while clamping down on opportunities for identity theft and fraud.

“This is an important step in testing industry demand for these kinds of services. It also shows how the government can work with industry to ensure that privacy is central to policy development and delivery, and ensure trusted identity verification,” he said.

Range of data

Warman said the goal was for digital identities to be as inclusive as possible. To that point, he said he would like to enable digital identity checks to take place against a range of datasets.

“This will allow for more people to be able to utilise their digital identity within their day-to-day lives. With permission from the user, identity providers will be able to draw on a range of data, whether with regard to government documents, financial history, or other personal information to build digital services.”

Warman also said he was “committed to creating a framework of standards and oversight, and to remove legal barriers where necessary.”

Last month Warman said ID cards will not be mandatory under government plans to push digital identity in the UK.