The UK government plans to introduce new legislation to make digital identities – a virtual form of ID – as trusted and secure as official documents such as passports and driving licences. Organisations will need to gain a new trustmark to show they can handle people’s identity data in a safe and consistent way and adhere to the highest standards of security and privacy.
Legislation to make digital identities more trustworthy and secure
The announcement comes in the wake of a public consultation on digital identity and attributes with the UK government intending to bring forward the legislation when parliamentary time allows. It will:
- Establish a robust and secure accreditation and certification process and trustmark so organisations can clearly prove they are meeting the highest security and privacy standards needed to use digital identities
- Create a legal gateway to allow trusted organisations to carry out verification checks against official data held by public bodies to help validate a person’s identity
- Confirm the legal validity of digital forms of identification are equal to physical forms of identification
A new Office for Digital Identities and Attributes (ODIA) will be set up in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as an interim governing body for digital identities, the government stated, adding that digital identities will not be compulsory, and people will still be able to use available paper documentation. In advance of the proposed legislation, landlords, letting agents, and employers will be able to use certified new technology to carry out right-to-work and the right-to-rent checks online from April 6, 2022.
Digital identities reduce fraud, improve identification speed
Digital identities can be used to tackle fraud by reducing the amount of personal data shared online and making it harder for fraudsters to obtain and use stolen identities, the government said. They also reduce the time, effort, and expense that sharing physical documents can take when people need to provide legal proof of who they are, for example when buying a home or starting a new job, it added.
Commenting on the announcement, data minister Julia Lopez said, “This government is committed to unlocking the power of data to benefit people across the UK. The legislation we’re proposing will ensure that there are trusted and secure ways for people and organisations to use digital identities, should they choose to.”
Sue Daley, director for technology and innovation at techUK, stated that continued cooperation between industry and government is key to a successful implementation of a digital identity ecosystem in the UK. “We must also ensure we bring citizens on this journey with us. Building public trust and confidence in Digital ID must be a key priority as we move forward.”