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UK government engaging private sector on digital identity as vital economic opportunity

Australia solicits public comments on expanded MyGovID
UK government engaging private sector on digital identity as vital economic opportunity

It is an eventful week for the adoption of digital identification solutions at a governmental level.

The UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman opened the Identity Week 2020 event on Monday, unveiling the government’s new plans for digital identity in the country.

The changes were discussed further by digital identity services provider Yoti, highlighting their impact on the private sector.

Also this week, Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) launched an appeal to know citizenships’ views on proposed legislation supporting an expanded Digital Identity system.

Digital identity as a vital block of future economies

Warman began his speech at Identity Week 2020 by mentioning how he regards digital identity as one of the most exciting opportunities for growth and security in the UK economy.

The minister also highlighted how the pandemic has dramatically increased the need for these services.

“Covid-19 has increased the demand for online services,” Warman explained, “63 percent of people are learning a new skill online; 20 percent are buying groceries online; 20 percent are managing their money online, and 19 percent are now accessing health services online.”

Digital identity would then be paramount to ensure all these online actions are executed safely and securely.

Warman continued by describing the government’s plans to collaborate with the private sector, academia, and civil society to deploy digital identity solutions and remove the need for physical identity cards.

“The development of this trust framework must be a collaborative, informed process to ensure that what we develop represents the very best of British innovation and British values.”

The new plan follows last year’s call for evidence, which resulted in the development of principles to frame digital identity policy in the UK.

According to Warman, the UK government will publish an alpha version of the digital identity Trust Framework in the new year.

“[That] gives us a unique opportunity to test digital identity standards in practice, highlighting their strengths, their challenges, and together, identifying areas for improvement and agreement.”

However, the Minister also specified that adherence to the new framework should be entirely voluntary.

Testing the Document Checking Service

The new framework will use real-time passport validity checks to confirm individuals’ identities via government-assured datasets.

The UK Government has already begun these digital passport checks, by making the Document Checking Service (DCS) available to a group of six companies until summer 2021.

This means that, upon creating an account with GOV.UK Verify, users will be prompted to use their passport or driving license to help prove who they are.

The DCS will then compare the document details with records held by government agencies, and respond by saying whether or not a valid record for the document exists.

A blog post on the UK Govt website, however, specifies that a DCS check on its own is not enough to prove someone’s identity.

In fact, these checks could be supported by biometrics, for example by taking a short video using their smartphones and matching the clip against the photo on their passport.

The post also clarified that while until now access to the DCS has been limited to the GOV.UK Verify IDPs, the new pilot will now see this data shared with governmental teams forming the DCS team, as well as partner companies.

Yoti provides guidance on GPG 45-based identity checks

Following the announcement of an updated Good Practice Guide (GPG) 45 last month, digital identity service provider Yoti published a series of guidelines on how to use the new identity checks.

The GPG 45 has been written by the Government Digital Service (GDS) team, with the collaboration of various private and public organizations.

The guide helps individuals check the identity of customers, employees, and business representatives.

Originally a single document, the GPG has now been split into separate parts respectively for how to perform identity verification and how to define identity profiles.

According to a Yoti blog post, who was among the companies calling on the government to reveal its plans for digital identity earlier this year, the separation will create space for organizations in the private sector to develop their own identity profiles based on the guide.

Moreover, the addition of more identity profiles will increase the number of elements that it is possible to utilize to reach a threshold of confidence in a verified identity.

Australia’s DTA seeks community’s views on digital identity

Following the UK’s lead, the Digital Transformation Agency in Australia has launched a new consultation page on Monday for citizens to provide feedback on proposed legislation supporting an expanded Digital Identity system in the country.

The new legislation would seek to further enhance existing privacy and consumer safeguards in regards to digital identity solutions, as well as establish permanent governance arrangements.

According to the Australian Government blog, more than 1.8 million Australians and 1.2 million businesses would already have utilized over 70 government services using myGovID.

The new Digital Identity Legislation Consultation Paper now aims at extending the service on a wider scale, while also addressing key issues surrounding the development of the legislation.

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