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Digital certificate regime wins UK gov plaudits

tScheme better than we could have done

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An industry-led scheme to certify best practices for digital certificate services in the UK won the stamp of approval from E-minister Stephen Timms yesterday.

tScheme was set up four years ago to establish a voluntary approvals regime for cryptographic services to protect the security of the identity of online consumers. The aim of the group was to make it unnecessary for government to regulate the industry. The Secretary of State's power to impose statutory regulation on the industry, written into Part I of the Electronic Communications Act 2000, expires next year.

Timms said tScheme was far more effective than anything the government could have developed. "tScheme has demonstrated the flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances which is almost impossible to achieve through a traditional regulatory model."

tScheme is a not-for-profit organisation owned by its members, which include Vodafone, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Mail, Microsoft, IBM, Experian, the CBI, the British Chamber of Commerce, APACS, ACCA, eCentre, BT and Barclays Bank. To date, tScheme has focused on business to business ecommerce projects.

At a presentation yesterday, KPMG and Lloyd's Register received certificates recognising their status at tScheme-approved assessors. A number of services, including a managed public key infrastructure(PKI) package from BT, received the tScheme badge of approval.

The tScheme certification is rigorous, according to Stephen Upton, chief executive of tScheme. "When organisations submit services for assessment tScheme looks at the organisation, personnel and physical security as well as the technology," he said. ®

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