Last month the government announced it was seeking views on a proposal to support departmental data sharing to enable access to online government services. The proposed updates to the 2017 Digital Economy Act would see departments legally allowed to share personal information to support the rollout of the new government-wide login service, GOV.UK One Login.
In an update, GDS CEO Tom Read said the new legislation won’t change GOV.UK One Login’s approach to privacy.
“We will continue to comply with data protection legislation and all guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The principles of ‘data minimisation’ are applied as set out in GDPR, so that only the smallest amount of data needed to prove a user’s identity is processed. GOV.UK One Login also has very strong cybersecurity and counter-fraud processes in place to uphold privacy, secure data and identify and rapidly respond to threats,” he wrote in a new blog.
Help to those without IDs
Read described GOV.UK One Login as “a fast and simple way for people to access government services, while maintaining stringent safeguards on user data and protecting against fraud.”
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He said GOV.UK One Login is not about replacing existing offline and face-to-face routes, or about the creation of an ID card. His comments follow a call by Sir Tony Blair for people to be given a digital ID incorporating their passport, driving licence, tax records, qualifications and right to work. He argued digital ID cards would make it easier and more secure for people to access services and for the government to understand their needs and better target support.
Around 3.5 million adults in the UK don’t have any form of photo ID according to the Electoral Commission, and there are many who don’t have a strong credit history on which they can answer questions to prove who they are. Read said the GOV.UK One Login would “strengthen the legal basis for using government held data to help someone prove who they are, as well as strengthening the legal basis for sharing the result of an identity check with another government department once it has been carried out, so that the user doesn’t have to do it again. This would help more people to be able to prove their identity online, simply and efficiently.”
Read also said that personal data will always be protected in the new system and will only be used to support identity verification. “It will enable us to confirm that ‘yes, this is Jaz Bloggs,’ making it easier for Jaz to use the government services they need, while also ensuring that fraudsters can’t get access if they’re not who they say they are.”