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Campaigners propose digital ID alternatives for EU citizens in the UK

Campaigners propose digital ID alternatives for EU citizens in the UK

Campaign group the3million has submitted proposals to the UK government suggesting a QR-based system to give EU citizens in the UK a clearer way to prove their settled status, reports PublicTechnology.

The application window for settled status for EU citizens living in the UK closed at the end of June 2021. Six million people applied either entirely online with a problematic app for biometric identity verification or by submitting a paper form.

EU citizens given settled status will not be issued with a physical credential (the UK does not have a national ID system and is still at the evidence-gathering stage for a digital ID system) and instead will rely on anyone needing to check their status, such as an employer or landlord, via an online Gov.UK system using a code that the claimant first has to generate online. There is little understanding of this system among people who may have to use it or even the awareness that it exists, according to the3million.

Low-cost, secure QR codes

The campaign group’s proposal is a secure QR code system which could be issued digitally or physically. The UK Home Office could use private keys to embed a digital signature into the system and the corresponding public key could be built into official Home Office apps which could be used to scan the codes.

the3million believes this would be more familiar, less onerous and much more convenient, and could counter the “micro-instances” of discrimination EU nationals face in the UK by service providers effectively not engaging with them by simply not knowing how to handle the current government system.

The current code-based approach could also be proving discriminatory, according to campaigners, as the government could be keeping a record of each time a verification code is generated by an EU national and who checks this code against the system. No such data is generated by UK nationals.

The issue is increasingly urgent as the Home Office has reportedly already begun detaining EU nationals who have applied for the settled status scheme but have yet to receive a decision and even threatening them with deportation, including those who could prove they had applied for settled status. The current guidance is that simply having applied gives the same protections as settled status, but some EU nationals who have applied, especially by post, do not have proof of an application.

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