Cabinet Office outlines gov-portal 'ID assurance' plans
One set of keys to unlock all your .gov access
Government departments will begin testing a first prototype of the Coalition's new identity assurance model for its entire online public services space in October this year.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude confirmed the plans in Parliament yesterday.
As The Register reported last week, the government is already in early talks with "trusted private sector identity service providers" to develop the concept of ID assurance.
Maude offered a broader outline about those plans on Wednesday, as the government continues to try and push all British citizens to access its services online.
The first government services to test out the system include the Department for Work and Pensions' universal credits, NHS HealthSpace and HMRC's one click programmes, said the minister.
"Online services have the potential to make life more convenient for service users as well as delivering cost savings. However, currently customers have to enter multiple log-in details and passwords to access different public services, sometimes on the same website. This involves significant duplication, is expensive to operate and is highly inconvenient for users," said Maude.
"It acts as a deterrent to people switching to digital channels, hampers the vision of digital being the primary channel for accessing government information and transactions, and provides an opportunity for fraudsters."
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman told us last week at the government's alpha.gov.uk briefing in a dingy office* in Lambeth that it was looking for feedback on identity verification and authentication for public sector bodies with particular attention on online and telephone channels, as well as the provision of related software and computer services.
Maude said yesterday that his department would "draw on expertise"** from organisations in the public and private sectors. He added that privacy advocates such as NO2ID would be kept in the loop about development of the prototype. Final implementation of the system is expected in August 2012, he said.
"Our intention is to create a market of accredited identity assurance services delivered by a range of private sector and mutualised suppliers," said the minster. ®
*The alpha.gov.uk team are beavering away on the Martha Lane Fox-endorsed project in a location that is on the outskirts of Whitehall and, perhaps significantly, shielded from Internet Explorer 6 hold-outs in government. Indeed, one of the mantras adopted by the team is "fuck IE6".
**Can someone please tell Maude that ex-Microsoft ID guru Kim Cameron is possibly-maybe available?
A long time ago, when I was young and naive, I used to think that a single joined-up system would be really good and useful. Over the years I've grown less naive, and the previous government demonstrated really well just how such a joined-up system can, and will be, abused.
So now I'm quite happy to have multiple sign-ons and accept that slight increase in cost and complexity and the need to duplicate data entry is a small price to pay for freedom.
If they want to make it simpler, provide an option to all the forms where users can upload a plain text file in standard format that auto-completes the form fields. If government departments can standardise on a minimum subset of data then it should be quite easy to generate the text file once.
Multiple logins were probably the only security
against some civil servant inevitably leaving a snapshot of the db on a train.
Headless Coalition Chickens
You're 'avin' a larf, El Reg/Kelly, and the government are certainly not the ones to be thinking about identity assurance schemes whenever they themselves are frightened into assuming pseudonyms whenever interacting with the public, as the recent case reported by Gerald Kaufman illustrated, whenever he tried to get back in touch with an office to speak with someone who had replied to him, to find out that that particular named person didn't exist. For security reasons they said, is why the likes of a Mr Jones to one person is a Mrs Smith to someone else and probably a Ms Busybody to another ......... http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/11/gerald-kaufman-complains-letter-signed-fake-official
With so much to hide and prevent the public from knowing because of the necessary abuses of the public to keep the system going in its present form, will the government always be fighting a losing rear guard action against transparency and accountability even as the puppets profess to be worthy champions of both for an new age of politics ...... same as the old politics.
And cyberspace quite rightly scares them witless, for that is a space in which you have be smart in a way that is exceptional and different to excel and lead, and that rules out anyone and everyone who would be thinking that politicians lead rather than just do as they are told.