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UK’s Government Digital Service gains funding for biometrics, SSO in Autumn budget

UK’s Government Digital Service gains funding for biometrics, SSO in Autumn budget

The first public prototype of the UK government’s digital identity system One Login is due to be available in April 2022 after securing £400 million (around US$546 million) in funding.

The new system will be a single-sign on (SSO) capability, built by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and used across the Gov.uk website, combined with digital identity verification for citizens to access (cross departmental) public services. These could range from registering a birth to setting up a business, and will see twelve government departments collaborating.

GDS’s funding package aims to progress development of the system, stated in this week’s Autumn Budget announcement unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The money will be paid across three years, and it is believed that funding for years two and three will be dependent on progress of the project.

A Gov.uk biometrics-based app is also due to be developed allowing users to set up accounts and login with commonly used biometrics or a passport chip. The app will be cloud-based and run on Amazon Web Services.

A tender for the app’s development was issued last month, with the final product being required to use NFC for ID document scanning, potentially including a facial authentication feature among other biometrics.

GDS previously created a digital identity system called Verify, which, due to the funding for One Login, will be closed to new users by the end of 2022 and shut down by April 2023. Remaining demand for a digital identity government solution was shown via a recent survey with 73 percent supporting, but 80 percent who voted for seeing greater transparency around online data.

To that end, a trust framework for digital identity is to be established in the UK for set of standards and assessment which would allow a person or entity to trust a certified entity. “The challenge will be maintaining this pro-innovation stance particularly as technologies change and it will be the role of the governing body to spot and respond to those emerging technologies early,” says Caroline France from the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is overseeing the digital ID framework. Clear lines of responsibility will need to be established according to France, including regulatory bodies to ensure that the standards are complied with.

Newly appointed GDS Director of Digital Identity Natalie Jones, who previously worked on digital ID for the Home Office’s border program, is to run the development of One Login.

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