The Cabinet Office has announced five new providers for the government’s identify verification service, GOV.UK Verify.
Barclays, GB Group, Morpho, PayPal and Royal Mail will join existing suppliers, the Post Office, Experian, Digidentity and Verizon, as providers of identity checking services for citizens accessing government’s digital services, such as HMRC’s Self-Assessment tax returns.
Under the Government Digital Service-built GOV.UK Verify system, members of the public can pick from the above list of certified companies the organisation they wish to check and verify their identity. The verification only needs to be done once, in a 15-minute process.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “We are making it easier for everyone to prove their identity online without building a single database or reintroducing an illiberal ID card scheme. Our online verification scheme empowers citizens to select the provider they want to manage and prove their identity.”
However, the complexity of linking the identity assurance scheme to government systems was higlighted last week when the government slammed its brakes on the £154 million system for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to farmers,one of the biggest of the 25 ‘digital exemplar’ transaction services that GDS is responsible for redesigning.
Problems with the CAP website first emerged during a public beta last year, when farmers complained that they were not able to use the site because they couldn’t verify their identity using GOV.UK Verify.
The Cabinet Office insists that the personal data entered into the system is not stored centrally, and the identity verification providers cannot use or share personal data without citizens’ permission.
The government is trying to promote GOV.UK Verify, having confirmed in its Budget 2015 announcement last week that the system would be implemented across central government “following a successful trial”.
The trial was described as successful despite GDS reporting in January that just 60 percent of those testing the new online tax returns service from HMRC were able to certify their identity using the new identity assurance scheme.
It is understood that the government eventually aims for 70 to 80 percent of people using GOV.VERIFY to certify their identity.