Government Gateway to close for older browsers and operating systems

Written by Sam Trendall on 14 February 2020 in News

Service will be unavailable on pre-Windows 7 platforms 

Credit: Алексей Чижов from Pixabay 

Users of operating systems that predate Windows 7 will no longer be able to access online services via the Government Gateway.

From 1 April, the gateway will also no longer be accessible at all on Internet Explorer 7 and earlier versions. Users of iterations up to Internet Explorer 10 may need to reconfigure the program or upgrade to the 11th, and most recent, version in order to continue to use the service.

The Government Gateway, which first launched in 2001, offers secure cross-government access to online services by allowing users to register for an ID and a password-protected account. More than 50 million such accounts have been created by citizens.

After a period of decommissioning, the service was officially closed in 2018, with the intention being that the launch of the GOV.UK Verify identity assurance would offer departments a more modern and secure login option.

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However, numerous services – including all of online services offered by HM Revenue and Customs – have continued to use Government Gateway. The tax agency announced in 2017 that it wished to develop its own identity-assurance offering, rather than adopt GOV.UK Verify.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is another significant user of the login tool, with 16 services offered by Defra and its agencies still requiring access via Government Gateway.

Other organisations that still use the technology to offer access to one or more services include the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Welsh Government, the NHS, and Northern Ireland Departments of Infrastructure and Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

An update from Defra said: “To keep your data secure and to update our technology, Government Gateway will soon be upgraded. Some older computer operating systems and internet browsers will not work with the new security measures in the upgrade.”

It added: “To continue to access the Government Gateway service you will need to check your computers operating system and Internet Explorer version.”

Even 19 years after its launch – and two years after its official closure – the number of services that still use Government Gateway dwarfs the amount that have adopted Verify, which stands at 22. 

The identity assurance tool, which was developed by the Government Digital Service, will shortly go into private-sector ownership, with no more government funding for the service from April onwards. A scathing Public Accounts Committee report published last year found that the programme to develop Verify was characterised by “poor decisions, compounded by a failure to take accountability”.

MPs concluded that: “GDS's inability to get buy-in from departments ultimately led to Verify's failure.”

In its response to the report, the government acknowledged that the digital agency’s ability to grow usage of Verify had suffered from “the lack of a government mandate” for departments to adopt the technology.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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