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Law reform to move identity verification online

By Michael Cross  >>

The need to produce original official documents in order to prove identity could finally become obsolete under ambitions for electronic identity verification announced by the government today. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport revealed that the government plans to update existing laws ‘to enable digital identity to be used as widely as possible’.

It will consult on developing legislation for consumer protection relating to digital identity, specific rights for individuals, an ability to seek redress if something goes wrong, and set out where the responsibility for oversight should lie. It will also consult on the appropriate privacy and technical standards for administering and processing secure digital identities.

The announcement formed part of the government’s response to a call for evidence on digital identity conducted last year. A summary of responses claims that: ‘You told us you wanted the government to take a lead role in developing the UK’s digital identity economy.’

Identity checks during home buying and selling were highlighted in the consultation, which suggested that ‘Effective use of digital identities (and digital signatures) would help simplify a lengthy process and enable more – if not all – of what is acknowledged to be one of life’s most stressful experiences to be moved online.’

Today, however, only a minority of people have digital identity credentials. The response notes that, of the 2.6 million self employed people who made a claim for income support in the scheme launched in May, 1.4m had first to pass through HMRC’s identity verification service.

In a statement, the Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said: ‘It is clear that there is a need and an expectation for the government to make it easier for people to use digital identities quickly, safely and securely and we are committed to enabling this. We want to ensure there is transparency for people when they create and use digital identities so that they are always in control of who has access to their data and for what purpose.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)