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Government digital identity plans advance amid scepticism, lack of awareness

Government digital identity plans advance amid scepticism, lack of awareness

Britons do not feel well informed about common digital identity and biometrics, according to a recently published survey into opinions around the topic ahead of plans to establish a nation-wide ‘OneLogin.’ UK millennials meanwhile feel that the government and other businesses are not properly protecting personal data, with 61 percent rating little or no level of trust in public bodies. Australia’s new bill for a Trusted Digital Identity System (TDIS) has sparked similar concerns over the possibility of identity theft and lack of data safeguards.

Survey sees Brits hesitant about Government plans for common digital identity

SaaS company RegTech Associates recently conducted survey-based research on behalf of risk and compliance management company PassFort to gain insight into Brits’ opinions on the government-proposed common digital identity and associated issues including biometrics.

In August the UK released an updated framework for nation-wide digital identity plans. The updated framework shows how independent assessment will take place and applications for taking part in the testing process have already opened. Furthermore in October the government issued a tender for a common digital identity check app, worth up to £4.8 million (US$6.6 million), which is likely to features biometric facial authentication.

While the UK Government consultation on the common digital identity has concluded, only 15 percent of Brits feel well informed on the topic according to the research, 52 percent said they were either not well informed or knew nothing about the issues surrounding it.

Younger people seem to be better informed; 19 percent of over-65s claimed they “know nothing” about the debate in comparison to only 5 percent of 18-to-24s. Thirty-six percent regard themselves as “well informed” versus only 1 percent of over-65s. Therefore, RegTech suggests that more could be done to educate the public on information around the matter.

National digital identity frameworks are increasingly being established in countries all over the world with efforts to boost financial inclusion and simplification of general public services. Presented as an inevitability, benefits may include ​​travel, e-signatures, healthcare and interoperability with benefits spanning economic growth, inclusion, efficiency and profit.

Despite this, only between 27 and 37 percent of respondents from all age groups claim to know something of the UK digital identity debate, with only 7 percent of respondents in favor of the establishment of digital ID and 31 percent skeptical about it.

Australia’s digital identity system labelled insecure, but could help to mitigate fraud

Australia’s draft Trusted Digital Identity Bill released by the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert, which aims to simplify the process of verifying the identities of individuals online and to facilitate the expansion of Australia’s digital economy, is not entirely trusted.

The proposed legislation will enshrine in law privacy and consumer safeguards for greater trust in the system as it expands, writes the Spectator, but also provides the necessary authority for the government to expand, maintain and regulate the system.

The proposed Trusted Digital Identity System (TDIS) is a single Commonwealth Government operated platform where businesses and government agencies will be able to collect, verify and exchange digital identity information in a secure place and managed by an oversight authority.

Digital identity company Yoti was chosen to gain prospective accreditation to enable Australians to carry out digital identity transactions and verify individuals.

Having a central system run by the government and supported by a network of accredited agencies could mitigate some issues like fraud, identity theft and privacy breach. There is an argument for collating one’s data to be stored by one entity protected by safeguards rather than held in several different merchants individually.

Concerns are generally in the form of protection of personal information from access by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, writes the Spectator, and has been labelled as insecure in a consultation submission by leading scholars Ben Frengley and Vanessa Teague in December 2020; “The system should be abandoned and redesigned from scratch by people with some understanding of secure protocol design and some concern from protecting their fellow citizens from identity theft.”

UK, US millennials may prefer digital implants to sharing personal data with governments

Consumer research commissioned by identity and credentials expert Intercede and conducted by Atomik Research has shown in a survey of approximately 2,000 16 to 35-year-olds that UK and U.S. millennials may have almost entirely lost trust in government and business to protect personal information.

For social media platforms 61 percent rated the level of trust as ‘little’ or ‘none,’ 38 percent for retailers, 22 percent for federal/national government, and 19 percent for financial institutions.

Those who rated themselves as having ‘complete’ trust were significantly lower; 17 percent in state/local government, 13 percent for employers, and as low as 4 percent for fixed and mobile telecom operators. Some 23 percent of the research respondents stated reasons for providing personal data were because it was believed companies and governments will have access to the data whether it is freely granted or not.

A previous survey by Intercede suggested an appetite for more effective and efficient safeguards, 32 percent would like to see more secure and convenient digital verification and authentication approaches that don’t require multiple complex passwords, supported by a Liminal survey. Further, 30 percent of millennials would welcome or consider digital chip implants as a next-generation measure for secure identity management on technology devices.

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