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Whitehall goes to White House for advice on 'ID assurance' plans

'A big step forward on the identity assurance mission'

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The Cabinet Office is to join the Open Identity Exchange (OIX), a US-based non-profit providing "certification trust frameworks for open identity technologies", to help with the development of its identity assurance programme.

The Cabinet Office's identity assurance team recently visited the White House, where it met up with OIX for a day of workshops and discussions. It also attended a meeting in London earlier this week with OIX and 50 organisations to discuss how the UK government plans to structure dialogue with interested parties on the subject.

In a blog post on the Government Digital Service website, the identity assurance team says that it has "formalised" its commitment to OIX, which provides certification services to deliver the levels of identity assurance and protection needed by users such as the US government.

According to the blog post, the government will use OIX in two ways:

  • To create a UK working group through which organisations can participate in the development of the initiative.
  • [To] engage with partners about ongoing small scale alpha projects that experiment with solutions to "real world problems".

OIX has developed the Open Identity Trust Framework model, a certification programme that allows a party which accepts a digital identity credential (from the relying party) to trust the identity, security, and privacy policies of the party which issues the credential (the identity service provider) and vice versa.

"Joining OIX is a big step forward on the identity assurance mission," says the blog post.

To participate in OIX, interested organisations do not have to pay, though there is a membership framework should organisations wish to join. Instead it asks participants to sign up to principles, for example, around intellectual property.

Joining OIX is the next step for the government's identity assurance service, which will be a market of competing private sector identity providers selling ID assurance services to the public sector, enabling organisations to identify who they are dealing with during government transactions.

In March, the government reissued a revamped £25m tender for identity services after recalling it at the end of December last year. It was thought that the original tender for the services, which will heavily support the Department for Work and Pensions' universal credit and the personal independence payment, lacked a cross-government approach and would have only benefited the DWP.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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