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The new strategy that will shape the future of digital identity in the UK

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TrustCloud | The new strategy that will shape the future of digital identity in the UK

The government of the United Kingdom is working on a new set of standards on digital identity with the aim of fostering citizens’ trust in verification technologies: the Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework, whose first version was introduced in early 2023.

From the frustration of Verify to new strategies for digital identity management 

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itizens in the United Kingdom, much like those in other nations, are demanding swift, secure, and non-intrusive processes for onboarding and remote identity verification. The absence of these crucial features not only poses the risk of losing customers during the process but also has the potential to instill an unfavorable perception of the product or company in the minds of users. 

Despite these demands, the British government has failed on more than one occasion in its attempts to implement national programs that facilitate verifications for both the public and private sectors. 

One of the most notorious failures in this regard was Verify, an identification platform that failed to understand the real needs of citizens and accumulated technical issues, leading to low adoption and ultimately its total disappearance. 

The United Kingdom is actively working on a new paradigm: the UK digital identity and attributes trust framework. The framework is a set of rules and standards aimed at facilitating identifications for purposes such as job access, purchasing age-restricted products, or opening a bank account. The british government’s intention is to streamline these processes digitally without the need to establish a physical identity document or share more attributes than necessary with each service. The plan is not to introduce identity cards on a massive scale but rather to instil confidence in the available verification methods. 

Mitigating fraud and cybercrime are also clear objectives of the Framework, with measures aimed at understanding who is behind identity verification solution providers and whether they are trustworthy. 

The framework, which has not yet had a set effective date, will influence the next generation of digital identity verification solutions. These solutions must strive to strike a balance between usability and the protection of users’ privacy. Contact our digital identity experts and avoid financial and reputational losses due to regulatory non-compliance. 

Identification technology providers: keys to maximum compliance 

All digital identity providers must adhere to a set of rules, which may vary slightly depending on the service offered. Here are some of the most interesting key points: 

  • Reusable digital identities: Providers will have the ability to create reusable digital identities. If someone has previously provided data to verify their identity in one service, that information can be used to establish a digital identity in other related services. For instance, if a user has already registered with a bank’s online platform, that bank or fintech can leverage the information already on record about the user (such as name and address) to assist in establishing a “digital identity.” This also applies to Qualified Trusted Service Providers (QTSPs), who might use an existing electronic signature to create a digital identity for a user, rather than requiring them to undergo an entirely new process. This not only streamlines processes but also ensures trust in these identities, established through previously verified information. 
  • Account suspension and cancellation: Every digital identity service must have robust protocols for suspending, closing, recovering, and making changes to user accounts. If there is evidence that an account is being misused, especially after a data breach, it will be necessary to suspend it before closing. Suspension provides users with the opportunity to recover the account if they change their minds or if someone else gains unauthorized access. Demonstrable fraudulent activity or the explicit request of the user will also be grounds for closure. In the case of suspected unauthorized access, a recovery process, including user identity verification, must be initiated. 
  • Inclusivity: To ensure that verification solutions do not exclude anyone, providers must embrace a wide variety of verification sources, such as for granting credit, to avoid leaving out individuals with less favorable histories. In the case of facial recognition systems, they must employ tested software that spans diverse ethnicities to avoid disadvantaging demographic minorities. Solutions must be mandatory accessible to meet the needs of individuals with visual or hearing impairments. TrustCloud offers advanced video identification or electronic signature solutions focused on the user: simple, inclusive, and accessible. Request a demo now.  
  • Interoperability: To simplify the exchange of identities and attributes and possibly prevent technical failures similar to those encountered by Verify, the new framework promotes interoperability between organisations and services, encouraging them to share identities and attributes as seamlessly as possible. 
  • Encryption: The proposal recommends adhering to best practices in information encryption and cryptographic techniques, endorsed by certification authorities such as NIST. 

A framework for all sectors where identity verification takes center stage 

In its early stages, the Trust Framework focuses on specific areas such as employment, rental access, or criminal background checks. However, identity verification is crucial in various industries, ranging from banks and fintechs to insurance, telecommunications, gaming, gambling, and cryptocurrencies. Therefore, it is anticipated that a variety of use cases will be introduced across different sectors in the coming years. 

The british government is encouraging businesses to adopt digital identity solutions in their systems and platforms, aiming for consumers to integrate them into their daily lives, enhancing the security and efficiency of digital transactions. 

The future of digital identities in the UK will largely depend on the acceptance and adoption of digital identity verification solutions and their efforts to become increasingly inclusive. This new framework has the potential to pave the way for this transformation. 

While challenges are evident, the potential benefits for the economy and society are substantial. With a proper focus on user-friendliness, citizen communication, and technical excellence, the UK has the opportunity to lead the next wave of digitization, transforming the way we interact with online services and products. 

Contact our digital identity specialists now 

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