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Government signs contracts with five ID assurance service providers

The Government has signed contracts with five companies that will provide identity (ID) assurance services as part of the drive to further digitise Government services.05 Sep 2013

Dutch data authentication service provider Digidentity, credit reference agency Experian, personal data storage provider Mydex, The Post Office and network and information services provider Verizon will work with the Government as it redesigns and rebuilds 25 government digital services. 

The Government is currently engaged in a number of projects to upgrade Government services online. The projects include digitising individuals' driving records, enabling employers to conduct a criminal records check on prospective new employees through a new online system, and enabling benefits claimants to make applications under the new Universal Credit scheme. 

"The identity assurance service will enable people to assert their identity online safely and securely, and allow government to be confident that users of online services are who they say they are," according to a blog published by the Government Digital Service. "We are pleased that these suppliers have chosen to invest in this phase of the programme and work with government to create this new market. We will now be working closely with those that have signed, who represent the range of types of providers needed to make online identity provision a success." 

The Government previously outlined that the first project that the new ID assurance providers would link into would be the Universal Credit reforms, but the Cabinet Office has now said that the Universal Credit scheme would not initially involve ID assurance (IDa) services, according to the Register. 

"IDa is not participating in the Pathfinder phase, but Universal Credit remains part of the future delivery plans for the cross-government IDa Service in development at the Cabinet Office," a Cabinet Office spokesperson said, according to the Register's report

Earlier this summer the Government set out proposed principles on privacy that ID assurance scheme providers would have to adhere to

The principles would require ID assurance service providers to, among other things, only process "the minimum data that is necessary" to meet the needs of individual service users. In addition, IDA providers would have to provide individuals with a right to access their personal data for free and transmit the data to another IDA provider "in a standard electronic format, free of charge and without impediment or delay" upon the request of a user. 

In June the Government and the UK's National Technical Authority on Information Assurance (CESG) also published new guidance on 'identity proofing' and verification. The guide sets out how businesses tasked with verifying the identity of individuals using Government services can achieve various levels of assurance about the identity of such users.