The UK government’s digital identity consultation response

We’re pleased to see the publication of the UK government’s Digital Identity: Consultation Response. We and others, like techUK, have been calling on the government to reveal its plans for digital identity and this response is a step in the right direction.

There are three things that we particularly like.

Principles-based approach

First, the need for a principles-based approach, spanning privacy, transparency, inclusivity, interoperability, proportionality and good governance.

Yoti was founded on core business principles, which have enabled us to develop a suite of digital identity products with the user’s interests at their core. 

It’s good to see the government following the same approach, and that their principles will be reviewed annually so that they can be kept in line with legal and normative developments in the UK. 

Broad application of digital ID

Secondly, the government has signalled that there is legislation in the works to ensure that digital ID can be used as broadly as possible.  We know there are some easy wins for the government, like changing the existing mandatory licensing regime for alcohol sales to allow retailers to rely on robust, privacy-preserving digital age verification. In addition, the industry seeks certainty that amendments, such as usage of digital ID for Right to Rent Checks, will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

More data sources

Finally, the government intends to open up additional data sources.  There are specific data sets that the government controls, which could be used to combat fraud, such as DVLA data and death registries. 

The Document Checking Service pilot is underway but it’s currently limited to passport data.  If the government wants to show it’s serious about using digital identity to stop fraudsters, it needs to think about enabling other key data to be checked against by digital identity providers.

 

Digital identity for economic recovery

The central role played by digital identity in underpinning the digital economy and helping the country’s economic recovery means there’s a strong case for the government to act on its statements swiftly. 

However, the lack of specifics or timelines in the government’s response makes us worried that the implementation of digital ID, which requires cross-departmental working, is yet to have clear ownership and a clear mandate to enable digital identity to support the UK’s economic recovery. 

Clearly, now is the time for combined and transparent action across key government departments and a timeline for legislative changes as modelled by leaders such as Canada and Singapore.