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UK digital identity moves department, financier demands ‘economic digital ID’

Private sector could provide it
UK digital identity moves department, financier demands ‘economic digital ID’

Oversight of the UK government’s digital identity projects have moved home, but so too has the boss. The newly-formed department, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), has gathered its thoughts on the trust frameworks, and a significant figure in finance predicts the private sector is readying to launch an “economic digital identity super app.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled departments in early February, demoting the D in DCMS from Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport back to simply Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Few details were made available on plans for that department. It also brings in strands from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The DSIT has been saddled with the global superlatives of the Brexit era. According to its own statement, the prime minister has tasked it with ensuring “the UK is the most innovative economy in the world and a science and technology superpower.”

While digital identity has shifted to DSIT, and even though it could add three percent to the economy, it does not get a mention in the in the summary: “The move will bring together the five technologies of tomorrow – quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, future telecoms – along with life sciences and green technologies, into one single department for the first time.”

The only identity mentioned in the department’s launch is the identifying of llama antibodies.

Michelle Donelan, who was in charge at DCMS, became secretary of state for Science, Innovation and Technology.

There are hopes that as Digital has now moved to a new department of the prime minister’s own creation, it may get more attention.

DSIT has published its priorities for the year. Again, no mention of digital identity projects, but it wants to deliver on the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which will underpin the trust framework and allow checks against trusted government sources, and the Online Safety Bill.

An update on digital identity, in fact, guidance on the ‘DSIT Digital Identity Programme,’ provides a proof of life for the schemes post-reshuffle. The guidance provides a useful overview of everything that has been happening on digital identity since the September 2020 publishing of the response to a call for evidence on how government can support digital identities in the UK.

Meanwhile, DCMS is tendering for a “comprehensive literature review of the available research that provides a clear overview of the identity-enabled fraud landscape in the UK; a data review assessing the quantity and quality of different data sources, and a visual aid that outlines both the expected positive and negative impacts of digital identities on fraud,” as posted on BidStats.

If government does not provide digital identity app, the private sector will: financier

British people will have an app for all their financial data in the same way they can access all their health data on the National Health Service (NHS) app. This “economic digital identity super app” should come soon and be devised by government, otherwise the private sector will swoop in.

These are the thoughts of Bob Wigley, chair of UK Finance and member of Trade Advisory Group for Financial Services at the UK Department for International Trade and the UK’s Economic Crime Strategic Board, reports the Global Government Forum.

Wigley believes people should have an app to gather their economic footprint such as credit ratings, KYC and AML data. People should be able to connect it to whatever financial institution they operate with.

If the government does not create the economic digital identity, “the big tech platforms will do it,” the GGF quotes him as saying, while “we should be designing it.”

The government is working on an app for accessing government services as part of its One Login system. Contracts have been awarded for various parts of that app, including to Deloitte for the overall app, to iProov for document checking and Experian for cloud-based verification systems.

This app would not necessarily offer the functionality Wigley is calling for.

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