Digital IDs will soon carry the same weight as physical IDs in the United Kingdom. The country’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has indicated that the government will introduce legislation to recognize digital IDs at the earliest opportunity in parliament, and went on to share more details about what citizens can expect to see in the bill.
At the most basic level, the law will clearly state that digital IDs are valid IDs on the same tier as legacy documents like passports and driver’s licenses, and can therefore be used as proof of identity in a range of online and in-person settings. The law covers IDs that are accessed through an app or a website, and is intended to support the UK’s ongoing digital transformation now that the British public has become more receptive to digital services during the pandemic.
The rest of the bill helps to create the legal framework needed to support the new identity ecosystem. Most notably, the law will establish security and privacy standards for digital IDs, and lay out the accreditation roadmap that organizations can follow to become certified identity providers under the new scheme. Those that meet the new standard would be allowed to use a trust mark that denotes their status with the British government.
The law will also create a new Office for Digital Identities and Attributes (ODIA) to oversee the new identity system (at least for the time being). The ODIA will operate as part of the DCMS Department, and be responsible for issuing trust marks to certified organizations.
The legal framework will extend to the verification process, in the sense that it allows trusted organizations to reference data in public databases when providing services. The DCMS Department stressed that the digital IDs would be strictly optional, and that citizens do not need to create one should they prefer not to do so. However, the government believes that digital IDs will appeal to citizens searching for convenience, and is hoping that it will help reduce fraud more generally. In that regard, the digital IDs will minimize the amount of information that needs to be exchanged when verifying an identity online.
The news reflects the growing interest in national digital identity solutions. Yoti has been one of the biggest advocates of digital ID standards in the UK, and recently supported the release of the Post Office’s new EasyID app. The Government Digital Service, meanwhile, has contracted Deloitte to develop a new mobile identity app for the country.