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Progress towards ID code for inclusion, call for UK Online Safety Bill deadlines at OIX

Progress towards ID code for inclusion, call for UK Online Safety Bill deadlines at OIX

A series of speakers brought updates on sections of digital identity at the latest meeting of the OIX (Open Identity Exchange) held in London. Women in Identity brought the community up to date on their progress towards an ID Code of Conduct, the Age Verification Providers Association gave their assessment of the UK’s Online Safety Bill and intentions to amend it, and Quali-Sign demonstrated the eWallet Network’s work on EU digital wallets.

OIX itself had some updates. It has been developing a guide to a global trust framework for interoperable digital ID, Chief Identity Strategist Nick Mothershaw has set out its ambitions and Members Manager Emma Shaw announced that its membership had grown by 40 percent over the past year and its board now includes non-executive members from Deloitte, Microsoft, Barclays, NatWest, Equifax, LexisNexis and Sopra Steria.

Women in Identity Code of Conduct now and next

The Women in Identity team brought an update on its five-stage process towards establishing a Code of Conduct for inclusive identity. The project, with sponsors including GBG, Mastercard, Omidyar and the Royal Bank of Canada, is focusing on the second stage – the human impact of ID exclusion.

Its research, in association with Caribou Digital and Habitus Insights, has focused so far on the UK and Ghana. Dr. Sarah Walton explained that the current emphasis has been on access to financial services, with health care services to be investigated later, to discover who is excluded from ID in mature and developing markets.

Some of the stories have been captured for video in the UK:

The case studies have been shared with the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions.

Although there are acute exclusionary impacts from a lack of legal ID, Dr. Walton also explained that even in developed countries as many as 12 to 15 percent of the adult population will not be able to acquire digital ID. The group will also explore the “money to be made from excluded people” as a pragmatic approach to attract investment in identity provision for the excluded.

Similar problems were discovered in Ghana, where people discussed the issues when they have no access to a “breeder document” such as a passport which can unlock further credentials.

A large U.S. agency is considering funding a study around identity exclusion in the country with Women in Identity, and would be required to also fund a similar study in a developing country, in line with Women in Identity’s requirements.

Here Ghanaian trans woman Va-Bene explains the identity issues she faces in a video made by Habitus Insights.

The research has informed five key principles for the creation of the ID Code of Conduct: user is at the center; social norms are always changing; there needs to be a move to vouching and tiered KYC to reduce the burden imposed by digital identity on the user; people exist in networks of other people who already know us; it is essential to build diversity into ID design and development teams.

Dr. Walton gave projections for the next steps of the Code of Conduct, with the economic impact of ID exclusion expected in Q2 or Q3 of 2022, the Code of Conduct development in the second half of the year, with an implementation framework in Q1 2023.

Women in Identity is seeking further expertise and sponsorship for the upcoming steps. The organization is now operating in 32 countries with more than 2,000 volunteers.

Age verification and the Online Safety Bill

Iain Corby, executive director of the Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA), presented the group’s take on the UK’s wide-ranging Online Safety Bill which will soon go before Parliament.

Corby highlighted sections of the proposals and while he noted that the Bill intends stop “most kids, most of the time” from accessing adult content, they may well find work arounds. Yet the Bill’s requirement for online platforms “likely to be accessed by children” to bring in checks could mean a great deal of opportunity for age verification services.

Legislation covering the content of the Bill, such as mandatory age verification for access to pornography, have been floating around Whitehall since 2017 and the AVPA, whose members invest in age verification technologies include biometric assessments, are keen for closure. They are frustrated, as was Baroness Beeban Kidron, who was instrumental in the UK’s Age-Appropriate Design Code, that the regulator Ofcom wants to conduct a further six-month study into online harms.

“The AVPA, as well as a number of influential campaign groups and charities, will be arguing for the Bill to include a deadline giving Ofcom three months to prepare the guidance required for Part 5, which is the section of the Bill that requires rigorous age verification for all sites which publish adult content to the UK market,” Corby told Biometric Update.

“Ministers would be required to commence relevant duties and powers in the Bill by the end of this period as well. We learnt the hard way from the Digital Economy Act 2017 that even when Parliament has expressed its clear will to protect children from exposure to adult content online, Ministers may not ever actually take the decision to proceed with enforcement of the law without a statutory deadline.”

Corby also presented the findings of the euCONSENT pilot for a cookie-based approach for interoperable age verification to allow browsers to use a single verification to access sites that use different verifiers, and explained that sites requiring stricter checks would need to reconfirm a user’s identity.

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