Private sector identity providers will have access to the standards and guidelines that underpin the GOV.UK identity assurance platform as part of the change in its long term development.
Kevin Cunnington, head of the Government Digital Service (GDS), has outlined the basics of the new approach in a blogpost that adds further clarity to the changes announced in Parliament by Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden.
It provides more detail to a picture in which the five identity providers - Barclays, Digidentity, the Post Office, Experian and SecureID – will have extra scope to develop their own offerings in the effort to increase take-up of the platform, notably for commercial services.
“Through these standards and guidelines, GDS and government will ensure there is trust and confidence in the emergent digital identity market,” Cunnington says in the blog. “And the private sector will invest to ensure the success of the market, bringing in even more innovation and forward thinking solutions.”
He confirms that this could lead to the emergence of new identity platforms based on Verify, reflecting earlier indications that GDS was heading towards making it a federated system.
Cunnington adds that the identity providers will continue to provide the initial verification service for public sector organisations using a tiered pricing system, under which the cost for government will go down as the number of users increases. This is aimed at making Verify cost-neutral for government and self-supporting.
Dowden’s statement to Parliament emphasised that the private sector will take responsibility for broadening its usage, but that the Government will provide state backed assurance and standards for the digital identity market.
The platform works through the identity providers carrying out the initial verification of a person’s identity – by checking against records held by bodies such as the Passport Office, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and credit agencies – and confirming it to the provider of a service through a hub.
Take-up of Verify within central government has been disappointing since it was launched in May 2016, with it being used for just 18 services so far and with just under 3 million accounts created, against a target of 25 million under the Government Transformation Strategy of early last year.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0