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UK plans $550M budget for government digital identity update

ICO and Biometrics Commissioner announce updates
UK plans $550M budget for government digital identity update

The United Kingdom’s upcoming digital identity system may cost the country up to £400 million (roughly US$552 million), ComputerWeekly reports.

Dubbed “One Login for Government,” the new cross-government single sign-on system aims to deliver a system that can be used to access the majority of Gov.uk services.

The new infrastructure will replace the failing Verify service, but the exact amount of investments in it is currently subject to the Treasury’s forthcoming spending review.

The UK invested a considerable amount of funding in Verify in the past, with the service being renewed for a time despite multiple setbacks in order to support the Universal Credit program during the pandemic, as well as the development of the new digital ID service.

According to ComputerWeekly, One Login for Government will be cloud-based and rely on Amazon Web Services.

The system and related program will be led by a new director of digital identity, Natalie Jones.

Information Commissioner’s Office announce new reforms

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently announced new reforms aimed at boosting innovation and economic growth while also protecting the public from major data threats.

The new consultation starts by recommending an overhaul of the ICO’s governance model, together with the introduction of an independent board and chief executive.

This, the ICO says, would not only aid the UK in cementing its position as a science ‘superpower,’ but also simplify data usage by researchers and developers of artificial intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge technologies.

“Reforms will broaden the remit of the ICO and empower the Information Commissioner to champion sectors and businesses that are using personal data in new, innovative and responsible ways to benefit people’s lives in areas such as healthcare – building on the use of data in tackling COVID-19 — and financial services,” the document reads.

The consultation will close at 11:45 pm on 19 November 2021, and the ICO has sent out a call for the public to give their opinion before the deadline.

Biometrics Commissioner and Counter-Terrorism Police discuss Coronavirus Act 2020 extension

The UK Biometric and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Fraser Sampson has recently discussed with Counter-Terrorism Policing a six-month extension of section 24 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which provides the government with special powers to tackle the unprecedented effects of the pandemic.

Specifically, section 24 allowed the police to keep fingerprint biometrics and DNA profiles for up to six months on grounds of national security when there was no other statutory basis.

“The effect of section 24, therefore, was to retain biometric information that may be of national security value but at the cost of keeping some biometrics which may prove to be neither necessary nor proportionate to retain,” Sampson wrote.

Recently, the Counter-Terrorism Policing has formally requested an extension for a further six months, and the Biometrics Commissioner has discussed the decision to assess whether the circumstances still exist to justify extending section 24 for a further and final six months.

According to Sampson, the long-term effects of the pandemic are difficult to predict.

“These uncertainties mean that we cannot predict whether the police will lose biometrics that should be kept in the interests of national security without an extension of section 24 powers.”

The Biometrics Commissioner also added that he is in possession of evidence suggesting that the threats that retaining biometrics for reasons of national security were designed to deal with, have decreased or are likely to do so in the next six months.

Despite this, however, Sampson concluded the decision of confirming the extension should belong to the government.

“As Biometrics Commissioner, I supported the original section 24 proposal and I believe that the same factors are still in play now as were then and, therefore, I support the Counter-Terrorism Policing’s request for a further and final six-month extension.”

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