Monday 26 November 2012

Identity assurance – one under the eight

On 13 November 2012 the Department for Work and pensions (DWP) announced the appointment of seven so-called "identity providers" for the new digital-by-default UK – the Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, and Verizon.

We were previously led to believe that the announcement would be made on 22 October 2012. And before that we were supposed to have the news by 30 September 2012.

Publication slipped. And we still don't know who the eighth "identity provider" will be.

Two things we do know:
  • Whoever the eighth one is, there is clearly some reluctance somewhere, some friction. Maybe DWP aren't sure about the credentials of this eighth supplier. Maybe the eighth supplier isn't sure that it wants to be involved with IDAP, the government's tottering Identity Assurance Programme. Either way, they will start with their credibility impugned.
  • It's not really DWP doing the appointing. It's GDS, the Government Digital Service. GDS may be very good at designing websites. But what credentials, if any, do they have for identity assurance? The appointment is clearly giving them an embarrassing problem. More to the point, there are 21 million prospective claimants for Universal Credit in the UK. Identity assurance is meant to be operational by the Spring of 2013 for all 21 million of them. The chances of that happening are now nil. GDS's failure is extending the imprisonment in the poverty trap of millions of claimants who could be released by Universal Credit. Putting the wrong people in charge of identity assurance has miserable social consequences.

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