Government plans to put digital identities on same footing as passports and driving licences

Written by Sam Trendall on 20 July 2021 in News

Consultation launched to explore key issues

Credit: Katie Collins/PA

The government has signalled its intent to put digital identities on the same legal footing as passports and driving licences.

It said that identity technologies such as online services or mobile apps have “many advantages over paper documents”.

This includes being “much harder for fraudsters to access and replicate”, as well as increasing privacy by limiting the information provided to only what is required for the purpose for which the identity is needed.

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The government plans to establish a governing body for the digital identity sector. This entity will be charged with providing a framework through which organisations can demonstrate their privacy and security standards, including a “recognised trustmark… which certifies that people’s data will be handled in a safe and consistent way”. It will also have a remit to ensure firms abide by government rules – which were published in draft form earlier this year.

The newly created entity could operate independently or may sit within an existing regulator, the government said.

Ahead of its creation, a consultation has been launched seeking feedback on three major issues, including the potential governance system for digital identities, and how best to establish their “legal validity… so people are confident they are as good as physical documents like passports or bank statements”.

The consultation, which is open to all members of the public until 13 September, is also seeking input on how best “to allow trusted organisations to make digital checks against authoritative government-held data”.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “The plans laid out today will ensure people can trust the app in their pocket as much as their passport when proving their identity. Digital identities offer a huge opportunity to make checks easier, quicker and more secure, and help people who do not have traditional forms of ID to prove who they are. This technology is a vital building block for the economy of the future, and we’re ensuring that people who choose to use it can have confidence their data will be handled safely.”


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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