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Identity Assurance

Volume 528: debated on Wednesday 18 May 2011

The Government agreed on 14 March 2011 to the development of a consistent, customer-centric approach to digital identity assurance across all public services. This will allow service users to log on safely to digital public services in a way that ensures personal privacy, reduces fraud and facilitates the move to online public services.

Today I am setting out the context and vision for this delivery programme and will explain how my Department will draw on expertise from organisations in the public and private sector to agree the design for this new approach. NO2ID and other privacy advocates are being kept closely informed of developments and given the opportunity to contribute and comment. This is a cross-departmental initiative and the approach will be introduced in the near term through major Government initiatives such as DWP’s universal credits, NHS HealthSpace, HMRC’s one click programmes and the Skills Funding Agency.

Online services have the potential to make life more convenient for service users as well as delivering cost savings. However, currently customers have to enter multiple log-in details and passwords to access different public services, sometimes on the same website. This involves significant duplication, is expensive to operate and is highly inconvenient for users. It acts as a deterrent to people switching to digital channels, hampers the vision of digital being the primary channel for accessing Government information and transactions, and provides an opportunity for fraudsters.

Our intention is to create a market of accredited identity assurance services delivered by a range of private sector and mutualised suppliers. A key improvement will be that people will be able to use the service of their choice to prove identity when accessing any public service. Identity assurance services will focus on the key imperative to ensure privacy. My Department is leading the project to develop the design and the creation of the market within the private sector. By October 2011 we expect to have the first prototype of the identity assurance model to test with transactional Departments and public sector identity assurance services, with a date for implementation from August 2012.