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Jersey looks into Verify-style platform

13/07/16

Channel Island government plans alpha project for identity assurance service based on Whitehall model

States of Jersey is working on a project that could lead to the creation of an online identity assurance platform along the lines of the recently launched GOV.UK Verify service.

Jersey_flag_1Marcus Febrache, web services manager for the Channel Island’s government, said it is following up the conclusions of a discovery project by the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) that the UK model could work on a much smaller scale for the crown dependency – albeit with a few changes.

The information services team is planning an alpha project to explore the option, expected to run for three or four months at a cost of about £50,000. Febrache said it will “tap into the expertise of people involved in the UK system alongside the work of Jersey based companies”.

But it is also going to commission a study to highlight any other options that meet its criteria for online identity assurance. Both streams of work are expected to be complete in October.

The OIX project focused on how a small jurisdiction such as Jersey could draw on the expertise and components of Verify, which has been run by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and went live for a number of central government services in May. GDS has published the technical standards and interface protocols used.

A report on the project says the island’s financial, legal and administrative systems were close enough to those of the UK to draw on the scheme, although it has two requirements of its own (which are in the future for the UK scheme): for assisted face-to-face identity proofing; and for using the service for business identities.

Also, the identity providers to the UK platform – the ‘certified companies’ – have developed their platforms for reuse and it would be possible with modifications to access Jersey’s data sources.

The OIX recommended an alpha project to build a prototype identity hub based on Verify, with clickable visual pages to show the user their progress, and to carry out user research on the registration process.

It also suggested that the project would only be commercially viable to identity providers if their number was restricted, suggesting that three could be appropriate.

In response, Ferbrache told UKAuthority: “We agree that limiting the number of identity providers that would be competing in a small market would be important to an attractive commercial proposition, though we have not considered what the right number might be.”

While Jersey could use the platform for online public services, its role as the home of a number of digital businesses suggests it will also place an early priority on providing a hub for business identities.

Image: Man vyi - own work, public domain through Wikimedia

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