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Next steps for government digital ID systems considered in UK, Australia, Netherlands

Support for government action on digital identity grows among Canadians

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The UK government is planning to set up a single sign-on (SSO) and uniform digital ID system across all government services, Computer Weekly reports, with features identity data sharing between departments.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) will build on its Gov.uk Accounts, which launched a trial last year, to replace Gov.uk Verify, which remains on life support pending a shutdown, possibly in September of this year.

Experian, meanwhile, is shuttering its Gov.uk Verify service, and asking its 2 million account-holders to sign on with one of the two providers left in the ecosystem.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove delivered instructions to departments to prepare them for the change, and request they provide resources to work with GDS on the new system.

The Gov.uk Accounts initiative was funded with £32 million (US$44.5 million) in initial funding in November.

Computer Weekly suggests the idea of sharing identity and behavioral data between accounts is likely to prove controversial.

Australia debates digital ID ecosystem oversight

The future of private sector and state government participation in Australia’s digital ID system is being debated, with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) arguing that industry self-regulation and existing regulators would be better suited to govern the ecosystem than a new body, ZDNet reports.

Legislation is being crafted in consultation with the Digital Transformation Agency, however, which has proposed establishing a permanent and independent oversight authority. In a filing to the DTA, CBA suggested the country’s Information Commissioner and Cyber Security Center, among other bodies, already fill the needed roles.

A “proliferation of regulators” could create confusion on the part of individuals, and a barrier to redress, the bank argues. If an oversight board is necessary, it should be confined to interacting with participants.

Telstra said in its submission that user trust in the framework will be vital to the digital ID ecosystem’s success, while Australia Post, one of the two current identity service providers, supports the creation of an oversight authority.

The whole consultation process has been panned by a Thinking Cybersecurity CEO and Australian National University adjunct professor Vanessa Teague, who told InnovationAus that a flaw she discovered last year has not been addressed, meaning that the system it is meant to extend has already failed to meet security and privacy standards.

The flaw in the Australian Tax Office’s digital identity service could allow an attacker to easily trick a legitimate user into giving up control of their account.

Teague says the DTA’s current digital ID design is not considered a secure digital ID by any technically literate person she has heard from.

The DTA has released 32 of the 44 submissions, most of which are generally supportive of the program. The body is also working on a system to charge for the digital ID service, which at least one of the submissions identified as a possible break from its mandate, while another submission argued against any use of biometrics.

Dutch State Secretary calls for government digital ID system

Netherlands State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops has proposed to parliament that the government should establish a foundational digital ID and a legal and regulatory basis for its functional use, including by the private sector.

Written after consultation with various government departments, academic institutions and identity service providers, the letter calls for the government to provide the infrastructure for a robust digital ID system, and the legal framework to maintain trust within it, and preserve user privacy.

The digital ID system should be inclusive, secure and reliable, supportive of government services into the future, and able to unlock economic opportunities, Knops says.

The four pillars of the system, he advises, should be reliable data sharing, digital access, a government-issued identity credential, and a legal and regulatory framework.

The letter goes into the vision in some detail, noting that the system may include biometrics, but not stipulate their use.

Canadian’s want government to prioritize digital ID, DIACC research says

Support for digital ID in Canada continues to grow, the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) says, with its latest research showing four in five believe it is somewhat or very important for government to move quickly.

The research indicates the pandemic has increased the number of people considering digital ID important, and three quarters of Canadians believe having a secure, trusted, and privacy-protecting digital identity to perform transactions online is important. Two-thirds of Canadian want the private and public sector to work together on digital ID.

“The pandemic has put a spotlight on the need for governments to move with urgency to invest in the digital infrastructure needed to ensure that Canadians receive the services they need and that Canadian businesses can participate fully and securely in the global digital economy,” comments DIACC President Joni Brennan.

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