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ContactPoint offers tokens for access

Restricted to three government departments, 100 local authorities

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The Department for Children Schools and Families has begun to roll out the authentication process for access to the ContactPoint database.

The first registration authority for the Employee Authentication Service (EAS) went live on 8 June 2009, beginning to issue tokens to a few hundred staff involved in the department's extranet services.

Under the EAS, staff with approved access to ContactPoint will be issued with a token, smaller than a credit card, on which they can type in their personal identification numbers. It will then generate a code on an LCD display which they can use one time for access to the database through an authorised computer.

The extent of access depends on what has been approved for the individual. ContactPoint will provide details of contact with the state for every child in England. It has attracted intense criticism from privacy campaigners, but the DCSF has said the EAS provides a robust method of authentication which will protect the system from abuse.

John Skipper, design authority for the EAS, told GC News that the DCSF and Department for Work and Pensions, which together with Communities and Local Government have sponsored the EAS programme, have signed up as registration authorities, along with more than 100 local authorities.

With early adopters beginning to use ContactPoint, the first local authority will begin to issue EAS tokens in July, and a national roll out is planned for October.

"We're doing this in a measured way because it is a security critical project," Skipper said. "We're not rushing to push it out indiscriminately."

He added that the EAS has been developed as a shared service which could be used for authentication for a range of other government services.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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