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Scottish Government backs social vouching project


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A project has been launched to develop social vouching for digital identities in Scotland’s public services.

The Scottish Government’s Digital Identity Service has begun to work with technology start-up Interrobang on the VouchSafe initiative, supported by the CivTech programme.

It is aimed at providing a new service to help digitally and financially excluded people prove who they are through social vouching – otherwise known as digital vouching – which involves one person vouching for another to establish their digital identity.

This could provide an alternative approach to scanning paper identity documents for people who may not have them, and thereby give them easier access to public and some private sector services. It is planned for the service to be integrated into the existing ScotAccount sign-in for public services.

The concept has been explored by the Government Digital Service in Whitehall and been the subject of a paper from the Open Identity Exchange.

Interrobang said the VouchSafe service would be compliant with the UK Government’s Good Practice Guide (GPG) 45 rules on how to prove and verify someone’s identity. It is aiming to complete an alpha phase of the project by May of this year, and is now looking for partners in the public and charity sectors to work with it on a beta phase to hone the service.

Key to services

Its co-founder Chloe Coleman, who is leading the research, said: “We’re making a key to unlock the essential services that people without basic ID often desperately need.

“Although Scotland is at the forefront of helping people prove who they are, it’s still a difficult process for many and it can be prohibitively expensive. It costs an adult more than £80 to apply for a new passport in the UK.”

Interrobang said the cost of living crisis is deterring many people from renewing passports and driving licences, which are the main paper documents used to prove identities.

It added that the World Bank has estimated that one billion people globally face challenges in proving their identity.


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