Government progresses plan for ‘legal gateway’ to allow private firms to use public data in checks

Written by Sam Trendall on 3 August 2022 in News

DCMS seeks £100k partner to help with technical design

Credit: Mohamed Hassan/PxHere 

The government is progressing its plans to “create a legal gateway” through which commercial firms can use public data to perform checks of individuals’ identity and information.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently announced plans to create a technical platform that will ultimately “allow private sector organisations to make checks against government-held attributes from data sets held by departments”. 

DCMS has now completed its “initial thinking and a feasibility study to consider how to make it as easy as possible for departments to share their data with trusted organisations”, according to a procurement notice published by the department. This exploratory work has focused on the possible implementation of an infrastructure that uses public-key encryption and “standard API protocols for data checking”.

The department is now looking to bring in a specialist consultancy to provide guidance on how to “operationalise” the platform.

DCMS picked out two areas where it requires particular support; the first is the development of a “centralised technical solution that checks that firms are trust marked before allowing access”. The second is the creation of a “a shared set of standards” to be used by departments and companies when sharing data.

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The contract notice added: “DCMS requires support in defining process maps to support potential paths to adopt a trusted list and means for allowing access to government-held attributes. Potential paths include: a 'directory' to store and manage trust mark details; a set of standards in order to simplify any integration and minimise proliferation of bespoke and custom interfaces; a set of technical patterns and examples so that services and providers can see practical implementations to make it easier to understand how to use it; [and] a test harness and sandbox so that departments and providers can easily test their systems against standards to prove they have implemented them correctly before allowing live data and users into their services.”

The chosen supplier is expected to be appointed to a 24-week contract, during which it will be tasked with putting forward design proposals in three areas: processes and the policy required to support them; technical specifications; and governance and operations of the gateway in the longer term.

The winning bidder will be paid between £110,000 and £120,000 the department said. Bids for the project are open until midnight on 15 August, with work scheduled to commence in late September.

The plans for the data gateway were announced in March, as part of the government’s response to a public consultation on the digital identity sector held last year.

“This… would not place a requirement on government data holders to allow checks against the data they hold,” the announcement said. “It would instead provide them with the power to do so, if they see fit.”


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on

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