The Government Digital Service (GDS) has indicated there is no immediate change in store for the GOV.UK Verify programme following claims that three of the five identity providers are withdrawing from taking part.
It comes after a report in Computer Weekly that three companies providing the initial identify authentication for the Verify platform – Experian, Barclays and Secure Identity – are taking up an option to withdraw from their roles.
There has been no confirmation or denial and GDS has issued a statement making no direct reference to Verify, but focusing on the broader review of digital identities launched by the Cabinet Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
A GDS spokesperson said: “Digital Identity remains a key priority for Government and we are currently undertaking a call for evidence seeking views on how to support the development of digital identities fit for the UK's growing digital economy.
“We are working to create a flourishing, private sector led marketplace for digital identity and our plans to do so remain on track.”
If the three withdraw from Verify only two identity providers – Digidentity and the Post Office – would remain involved in the programme.
Change in emphasis
This comes after a sharp shift in its emphasis towards the end of last year, when the Cabinet Office handed over responsibility for increasing the use of the platform to the identity providers, partly through promoting its take-up in the private sector.
The service works through the identity providers carrying out the initial authentication then, when the user wishes to prove their identity for an online service, the public sector body checking on the relevant attributes held by the identity provider.
It is currently used for just 15 central government online services and has been subject to a stream of criticism, most recently from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, which said it had failed to meet any of its original targets and not delivered value for money.
Last month the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport implicitly raised questions about its future with the launch of a consultation on digital identities.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0