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Verify can work in private sector, says OIX chief



Don Thibeau, chair of Open Identity Exchange UK, has emphasised that the government identity assurance mechanism fits in a wider ecosystem

GOV.UK Verify could play a significant role in identity assurance for the private sector, according the chair of the Open Identity Exchange (OIX).

Don Thibeau (pictured) said the membership of the Government Digital Service (GDS) on the board of the recently formed UK chapter of OIX indicates that Verify is within a wider ecosystem of public and private sector initiatives.

This reflects the decision of OIX UK to include the government identity assurance mechanism, which was formally launched last month, among its key areas of focus for this year. It is looking at enabling the use of identities created for Verify in the private sector.

Speaking to UKAuthority at the Identity Management 2016 conference, organised by Whitehall Media, Thibeau emphasised the scope for interactions between Verify, which has been developed initially for use in online government services, and identity assurance in the private sector.

Two factors

“It’s a recognition by Cabinet Office of two things,” he said. “One, that government interests are best protected when it uses systems that have open standards.

“Two, to me the most important, it’s a dawning realisation by the private sector that it’s one part of an ecosystem. The old way of thinking was that governments would manage and regulate markets. The new world reality that governments are one actor in the ecosystem.”

He added: “Most governments think of high speed broadband and access as part of national infrastructure. Now we’re beginning to think of verified identities as a piece of national infrastructure.

“If we have a public-private partnership that says all UK citizens have been verified to this level of assurance it enables innovation on this platform.”

He described OIX UK as reflecting the nature of its US based, international parent organisation, as being technology agnostic with government sitting together with commercial companies to establish the “rules of the road for identity management”.

GDS now has a place on the board along with major companies in the field including Experian, Verizon, Microsoft and Barclays. Thibeau said it is working on bringing representatives from smaller companies onto the board to ensure the SME sector has a voice.

Re-use and acceleration

The organisation’s other areas for focus this year include: enabling the re-use of commercial identities and attributes across UK market sectors; accelerating the expansion of data validation services, standards and methods for identity proofing; and registering certifications, schemes and trust frameworks that are interoperable in global markets.

Thibeau emphasised the final point in his presentation to the conference, saying that the rules and models for UK markets have to be compatible with those for Europe and the global ecosystem.

He also said the parent OIX is experimenting with a registry of the different trust frameworks around the world.

“The proposition is simple, that anyone, anywhere, anytime can look at these frameworks and make a judgement,” he said. “This is the driver of trust and transactions that we think might be accelerated and adopted on a global basis.”

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