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GDS considers social vouching as option for future One Login service


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Tom Read
Image source: Tom Read from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is looking at the option for social vouching to work within the future One Login for government service.

GDS director Tom Read referred to it in his address to the techUK Building the Smarter State conference yesterday, saying it was one of a number of approaches for people to provide the initial proof of their identity for the service.

“One option we’re looking at is social vouching, where I say you are who you say you are and I tell the government my details.

“We’re looking at whether we can do social vouching – we’re not sure yet – to prove their identity.”

The concept was recently promoted – albeit under the term digital vouching – by the Open Identity Exchange as a process to support online access to public and private sector services. It provides a possible mechanism for people who do not possess photo identification or relevant records to prove their identity.

Read said this is one of a number of approaches being consider for One Login, along with people using passports and driving licences, and drawing on data from the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs.

Online sign-in

One Login will be a single way for people to sign in online for government services. Read said this will be crucial to the future reputation of UK government digital services.

“We’re not treating it as an add-on or side issue,” he said. “It needs to be front and centre. There needs to be ways for people to prove their identity.”

He said: “In the very short term it’s just about removing a number of friction points in trying to access things. It’s making things work in a way to make people’s online journey much simpler, so they prove their identity once instead of every time they interact with government.

“When you have a single way of logging in, you can start, if you choose to, connecting your data across government.”

In turn, this could support the drive for government to identify people’s eligibility for services they are not yet receiving, he added.

Public info possibility

In response to a question from UKAuthority, Read also said that GDS is beginning to look at the possibility of a public information campaign on the availability of One Login in the future, but so far there is no detail on any plan.

“We’re just starting to look at that,” he said. “One of the things we’ve found is that we’ve got more demand than we expected from departments and agencies that want to go early on One Login rather than build their own. What we don’t want is for that to confuse the system.”

He said that differences between the needs of different services need to be resolved before GDS can start promoting it to the public as the way of interacting with government.”

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