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UK government to subsidize private digital ID schemes

UK government to subsidize private digital ID schemes

Private digital identity providers are set to benefit as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) picks up the tab for a “substantial proportion” of the costs for digital identity in the country, according to responses to a consultation on the trust framework. It will also seek legal changes to make digital ID as valid as physical credentials.

The UK government has published its responses to the results of the digital identity and attributes consultation. Published in July 2021, the consultation document sought to gather view on the proposals of the Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (DIATF) established in February 2021.

The results are in. There were 270 responses, although many were somewhat off-topic, focusing on whether the entire project is the thin end of the wedge for national ID. There were generally fewer than a hundred relevant replies to each question.

Most answers and the government’s responses are in line with expectations, such as a slight majority wanting to keep an existing regulator, most likely the ICO. Yet the DCMS responses shed some light on potential next steps.

“The government will use the period of DCMS governance to engage with organisations and certifying bodies to explore charging options, with the intention being that organisations are charged an annual membership fee by the governance function,” states the government response.

“In all cases, the cost of certification against the trust framework will be borne by the organisations seeking it. The establishment of the governance function in DCMS will allow the government to bear a substantial proportion of the other costs, at least initially.”

The governance function, the upcoming Office for Digital Identities and Attributes (OfDIA), will also commit to ensuring “any pricing models are proportionate and do not have an unduly restrictive effect on market access.”

When asked if membership of the trust framework should be a prerequisite for an organisation to make eligibility or identity checks against government-held data, the majority of respondents (65 percent of 95) agreed, with 28 percent disagreeing (almost all of whom were ID service providers or their representatives) and 6 percent unsure.

DCMS will “require such private sector organisations to become certified against the trust framework before they are able to make checks against government-held data through the proposed legal gateway.

“We do not think this requirement presents an unnecessary commercial restriction,” adds the response. Relying parties will not be subject to certified but “will need to agree to not share that information more widely.”

The vast majority of respondents (92 percent of 87) believe that digital identities and digital attributes should be as valid as physical forms of identification or traditional identity documents.

DCMS will seek to “introduce legislation, when parliamentary time allows, to affirm that digital identities and digital attributes can be as valid as physical forms of identification, or traditional identity documents.

“This statutory presumption will provide parties that rely on government-held data with the clarity and confidence they need to trust the data being shared with them.”

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