Editorial

Digital Identity for Government round-up

The recent Digital Identity for Government event played host to discussions on the progress of digital ID in local authorities, the role of Open Banking in Government, and the potential for citizens regarding the new Identity and Attributes Exchange (IAX) scheme

Posted 25 November 2020 by

Think Digital Partners recently held its virtual Digital Identity for Government 2020 event, which played host to discussions from private and public sector thought leaders from across the digital identity spectrum. The good news is that the keynote sessions are now available to watch here.

We were firstly delighted to reveal the results of our recent Local Authority Digital Identity Survey, Identifying as Citizens.

Jessica Figueras, founder of Hither Ventures, and author of the report discussed the findings survey respondent Jon Graham, project manager at London Borough of Tower Hamlets, alongside Donna Joyce, public sector corporate account executive at our sponsor partner, Auth0.

Figueras highlighted the idealised view many in technology have about “a joined-up, seamless, universal” experience that digital citizens should have, but which differs greatly from the reality. The report notes that the management of digital identity and provisions for identity assurance is immature and fragmented – not just across councils but also within councils.

It is inevitable the journey will be tougher in the UK, she pointed out, given the Government policy has said single citizen ID cards will not be mandatory in the UK, unlike other countries like Estonia.  

Indeed, only a quarter of councils had or were developing a single overarching digital identity strategy, and the most common set of barriers was around lack of funding or a proven business case. Many councils face uncertainty as to how to approach the challenge due to a lack of standards, frameworks and guidance.

However, Joyce pointed out that what the public sector is experiencing isn’t much difference to what is happening to other sectors, such as retail and hospitality, which are also working towards “providing a smooth user experience without compromising security.”

Identity and Attributes Exchange (IAX)

Elsewhere, regular conference chair David Bicknell hosted a panel discussion on the new Identity and Attributes Exchange (IAX) with great insight from panellists, Bryan Glick, editor in chief at Computer Weekly; Benjamin Barnard, head of technology policy at think tank The Policy Exchange; Andrew Bud CBE, CEO and founder of iProov and Colin Wallis, executive director at industry organisation the Kantara Initiative.

The panellists discussed the ill-fated UK Gov Verify, and whether it was a victim of timing. They also asked if IAX will solve the UK government’s need for a seamless, usable, secure, citizen identity scheme.

Wallis pointed out the IAX is likely leveraging “some of the best bits” of Verify but hoped there were “checks and balances” in place to ensure the new framework is fit for purpose. Barnard talked about some of the challenges within Government of successfully ushering in IAX, while Bud talked about how it might compare to SingPass, a single national digital ID programme in Singapore that spans the public and private sectors.

Open Banking

Finally, an esteemed panel tackled the hugely interesting topic of Open Banking and its appropriateness for the UK Government. The session was hosted by Think Digital Partners’ own Digital Identity advisor Susan Morrow, with David Birch from Consult Hyperion; Till Wirth, head of platform at TrueLayer and Rob Kotlarz, co-founder of Digital Identity Net.

The second version of the EU payment service directive (PSD) Open Banking opens up the idea of exposing customer data through the banks. So, should the Government make use of it? The panel discusses new cases, potential roadblocks, the regulatory aspect and the role of fintech, with Wirth talking about TrueLayer’s work with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

“We are really pleased with the great feedback from delegates and speakers regarding the level of discussions and insight shared on the day,” Matt Stanley, director of Think Digital Partners. “We were also are really happy to present the findings of our survey, which is the first step in helping generate some momentum and activity around local authority digital identity. If people missed the event itself, some of the panel discussions are now available on our YouTube channel.

“Also, if digital identity is a topic close to your hearts, you may also be interested in our Cybersecurity for Government virtual event happening next Tuesday morning. You can view the agenda and register to attend here.