If you’re going to reject biometric IDs, at least clean up verification — UK consultant

If you’re going to reject biometric IDs, at least clean up verification — UK consultant

Having dissected the highs and lows of the UK’s various digital ID programs in a report, a British think tank has published 11 recommendations that settle for a lesser goal: improving ID verification in public and private transactions.

Indeed, not one of the recommendations would lead to a coherent digital ID strategy with or without the use of biometric data. In fairness, the think tank knows its audience: a go-it-alone government that views a national ID in partisan terms.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman, who wrote the forward for the Policy Exchange report, this week said that the current UK government unequivocally opposes a digital ID in general and a central biometric database of its citizens in particular.

Several European nations have embraced digital IDs as a way to build more inclusive and dynamic digital economies. Leaders have promised that IDs will boost online security, make personalized services possible, increase productivity and improve the economy.

But that cuts no ice in England.

Having divorced itself from the EU, the government seems intent upon finding ways to differentiate itself from its former economic allies.

In his forward, Warman writes that the UK will accomplish economic goals and create “a cross-government identity system focused on user need” without digital IDs.

Even without philosophical differences about government oversight and personal privacy, a national digital ID might be a hard sell. A previous effort at national digital IDs, Gov.uk Verify has flamed out.

The report’s first recommendation says it all. “Preserve traditional methods of identity checks.” There are people who cannot set up a digital ID or who are uncomfortable with the idea.

After that, the recommendations boil down to creating more government to handle verification and (non-national) digital ID policy, continue work on the Confirm Your Identity program for welfare recipients and bolster standards-making and regulation enforcement.

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