techUK’s leading role for a UK digital identity ecosystem

At a ground-breaking workshop, where Lisa Barrett, Director of Digital Identity at the Government Digital Service (GDS), delivered a keynote speech, techUK and the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) announced a collaborative partnership towards digital identity in the UK.  

The event brought together more than 120 leaders from GDS, DCMS, the FCA, local authorities, the gambling sector, airlines, banks, tech companies and more. Attendees and speakers discussed what we need to do to create an interoperable digital identity market in the UK.  

Antony Walker, Deputy CEO, techUK, pledged our commitment to the initiative and stressed the high importance of digital ID across techUK members. He added that the need for age verification technology is extremely urgent in the light of the incoming rules from the Information Commissioner’s Office on ‘age appropriate design’, further to the Data Protection Act 2018. 

We are at a crunch point! 

The push to create a digital identity market in the UK has reached crunch point. There has already been some excellent work done by government and industry; the UK has some of the foremost technologies and our expertise has earned global recognition – yet we have not reached a solution.  

There is less than a year to go to the date set by Government for a ‘transition to a private sector led model’ for the Gov.UK Verify solution, which is to include ‘broadening the usage and application of digital identity in the UK’.  This key date brings a sense of urgency for all players in the sector and there clearly is a need for further collaboration to ensure digital identity works across all sectors and brings all the promised values for individuals, relying parties and companies.  

Lisa Barrett noted this urgency and that the present time is indeed critical to shaping the future and contributing to what is being developed.  

techUK’s recommendations at the heart of the debate 

The workshop was based on techUK’s nine recommendations made in its Digital Identity White Paper:  the three panels of expert speakers discussed these in detail.  

In the first panel, speakers from DCMS, DWP, FDATA, Mastercard and TISA, examined the need for a Government policy for the creation of a digital identity ecosystem and the designation of a single point of contact within Government. On whether a competent oversight authority should be established, panelists agreed that, as a pre-requisite, it should indeed be ‘competent’! 

The second panel looked at future plans for Verify and the further opening up of government-held data. Speakers from GDS, the NHS, the Post Office, Tata Consultancy Services and Yoti discussed the need for a framework of standards which can be used by all players. This was followed by a presentation from Rob Laurence of OIX on how the DCS guidelines, GPG45, could be aligned to meet the requirements of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. 

In the final panel, speakers from International Airlines Group, Etive, the Gambling Commission, HSBC and Tower Hamlets considered the varying needs of different sectors and the crucial issue of how the profile of ‘thin-file’ customers can be built up by using a wider range of identity-related attributes.   

Notable points which came out were: 

  • the need for an overarching set of standards, which are internationally aligned, under which a market can be built; 

  • these standards should adopt a lightweight and seamless approach;  

  • the need for IDs which can be used and reused across the public and private sectors; 

  • the need to deal with the complexities of liability; 

  • how to establish a business model for such a market; 

  • cross-sector collaboration with the government’s participation is required as a matter of urgency. 

The way forward: call to action! 

techUK and OIX intend to seize the momentum generated by this event and rounded it off with a strong call to action. 

  • The two bodies will form a Steering Group, with the participation of Government and other major sector bodies. 

  • A set of working groups will carry out detailed work on specific issues including interoperability, competent authority, standards, liability and inclusion. 

  • Papers will be produced detailing the conclusions. 

  • A further event is proposed in early 2020 to examine the outcomes of these working groups. 

techUK is committed to helping both the industry and government achieve productive collaboration and deliver tangible outcomes so the UK can deliver trusted methods of digital identity widely available to citizens and to businesses in order to reap the full benefits of a digital economy.  

  • Hugo Rousseau

    Hugo Rousseau

    Programme Manager | Financial Services and Payments
    T 020 7331 2054
  • Ruth Milligan

    Ruth Milligan

    Head of Programme | Digital ID and Open Data
    T 020 7331 2173

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