UK Government Document Outlines Framework for “Digital Identities”


A government document was published on the 11th of February outlining a “digital identity and attribute trust” framework. This document was defined as the “beginning” of a “trusted digital identity system”. 

The document, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport contains an optimistic ministerial foreword by the Minister for Digital Infrastructure. Matt Warmann (MP) noted that “it has become increasingly important in this digital age to be able to establish trust” and “having an agreed digital identity that can [be] use[d] easily and universally will be the cornerstone of future economies”. 

The document proposes a set of guidelines for so-called “Identity Service Providers”, a company or organisation tasked with “proving and verifying” users identities and “specialising in designing and building components that can be used during a specific part of the process”. 

A “digital identity” is defined in the document as a “digital representation” of an individual and will let the individual “prove” who they are “during interactions and transactions”. According to the document, digital identities will be used in a variety of ways and will “remove the need to post [or show] documents to prove who you are”. Furthermore, digital identities can be used to “ensure that the person or organisation you are dealing with is who they claim to be”.

Digital identities will be made up of “attributes”, “pieces of information that describe something about a person or organisation”. “Attributes” can include information such as a person’s “hair colour”, “A levels or trade qualifications” or “bank account number”.

So-called “attribute service providers” -“individuals or organisations that collect, create, check or share attributes”-, will be able to score attributes to make it “easier for identity service providers and [other] parties to compare people. They can use the scores to decide “which attributes meet their needs” and will be used to increase confidence in consumers.

The document states that is “just the beginning” of the construction of “a trusted digital identity system for the UK”. The trust framework details that there is “further work to do on the governance structure to protect consumers and make sure the trust framework delivers on its intended benefits”. The next step for the trust framework will be to “incorporate feedback and publish a second iteration” containing the details for the certification process. The certification process will explain how organisations will be assessed in order to “meet the requirements of the trust framework”. “Sandbox style” testing of the trust framework will then commence “in partnership with sectors and organisations” to ensure their needs are met. 

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