Ruth Milligan, Head of techUK's Digital ID programme, opened the debate by positing digital ID as a key mechanism for consumers and SMEs to access the widest range of services offered in the coming digital economy. As such it should surely play a central part in the digital identity strategy announced by Oliver Dowden on
Covid-19, she continued, had highlighted the deficiencies of traditional identification and onboarding mechanisms: reliance in many instances on paper documents and face-to-face checks had hampered recruitment, age-checks, property transactions and posed obstacles in many other instances. The question was: how can the UK move swiftly to a functioning digital identity market.
Alison McDowell, Digital Identity Adviser with Government Digital Services (GDS) emphasized that the most important element in any Digital Identity future was trust: this must be the cornerstone of any solution. She also detailed how government was both a consumer of identities and had a role in enabling the formation of a market. GDS has published the GPG 44 and 45 guides, with the idea of creating a ‘trust framework’ to be a basis for interoperability and the provision of identities into government. She encouraged private sector companies to be proactive, follow the standards and launch their products on the market in their own sectors. In reply to a question, she said she hoped the reply to the Call for Evidence would be published shortly.
Rob Kotlarz, CEO of Digital Identity Net, described how important digital identity was in the financial services field. He felt Government had a key role to play as a catalyst for the creation of a digital identity market. Standards, interoperability and certification are essential, he said, and must be overseen centrally with strong leadership from government and regulation if required. It is also urgent that digital ID be a key element in the digital strategy and that outdated legislation be revised where it creates barriers to digital IDs.
Christine Leong, Global Lead, Blockchain, ID & Biometrics, Accenture, emphasized the enabling nature of digital identity: it is not an end in itself, but a tool to allow consumers to connect all the data which underpins the services they use in their digital lives for travel, finance, shopping, health etc. Companies should be open to collaboration in developing use-cases and constructing business models which will deliver benefits to citizens and to those relying on digital IDs.