It wants to create a governing body with the power to issue a trust mark to digital identity firms. This organisation, which it says could be housed within an existing regulator, will certify that people’s data will be handled “in a safe and consistent way.”
The government wants to ensure firms follow the rules its set out in draft form earlier this year.
It adds that it will work with organisations to take “proactive action to prevent and enable the detection of fraud and security incidents, as well as encouraging inclusion.”
220,000 cases of personal data abuse and impersonation were recorded in 2019. The government argues that digital identities could help reduce these cases as they are much harder for fraudsters to access and replicate.
Elsewhere, someone buying age-restricted goods would be able to prove they are over 18 without needing to disclose their date of birth, name or address.
“The plans laid out today will ensure people can trust the app in their pocket as much as their passport when proving their identity,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman.
“Digital identities offer a huge opportunity to make checks easier, quicker and more secure, and help people who do not have traditional forms of ID to prove who they are.
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“This technology is a vital building block for the economy of the future, and we’re ensuring that people who choose to use it can have confidence their data will be handled safely.”
Widening access to ID
The government says that digital identity will widen access to legally valid forms of identification for people who currently find it difficult to prove something about themselves. For example, if someone does not have access to an official document, such as a passport, they may be able to prove their identity digitally through another government service, or other means such as a vouch from a doctor or other trustworthy source.
To ensure digital identity products are available to as many people as possible, businesses will be required to report annually to the governing body on which users are excluded from using their services and outline what is being done to mitigate this.
Equally, the government stresses that digital identity use “will not be mandatory and people will retain the option to use available paper documentation.”
“Just as the government is committed to not making digital identities compulsory in the UK, it also wants to ensure that people in the future are not forced to use traditional identity documents, if these are not strictly required,” it said in a statement.
The government is also suggesting new powers to allow digital identities to be built on a greater range of trusted datasets – such as those managed by the DVLA, or the General Register Office which are responsible for birth certificates. It proposes allowing digital identity businesses to ask government authorities to confirm whether a piece of information, such as someone’s age or address, is valid and matches their records.
The consultation is open to any member of the public and closes on September 13.