UK Announces Legislation to Govern Digital Identity Security

The UK has announced plans to introduce legislation to improve the security of digital identity solutions. The new rules are designed to enhance trust in digital identities, reducing reliance on traditional physical documents such as passports and driving licenses.

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) made the announcement following a public consultation period.

Digital identity solutions can be accessed in numerous ways, including via a phone app or website. However, there are considerable privacy and security concerns relating to how the sensitive personal data collected will be stored and used.

An interim body called the Office for Digital Identities and Attribute (ODIA) will be established to govern digital identities while the government brings forward legislation in this area. The ODIA will be given the power to issue an easily recognized trustmark to certified digital identity organizations, demonstrating they can be trusted to handle personal data safely and consistently. It will also ensure these trust-marked organizations adhere to the necessary standards.

The government said it will subsequently bring forward the legislation “when parliamentary time allows.” This law will:

  • Establish a robust and secure accreditation and certification process and trustmark so organizations can clearly prove they are meeting the highest security and privacy standards needed to use digital identities.
  • Create a legal gateway to allow trusted organizations to carry out verification checks against official data held by public bodies to help validate a person’s identity.
  • Confirm the legal validity of digital forms of identification is equal to physical forms of identification, such as physical passports.

These measures are designed to help facilitate the use of digital identification technologies in the UK. This should significantly reduce the time, effort and expense that sharing physical documents can take when people need to prove their identity, such as buying a home or starting a new job. The government also believes this shift will have privacy and security benefits by reducing the amount of personal information that needs to be revealed online or in-person once they have created a digital identity with a trusted organization.

Data Minister Julia Lopez commented: “This government is committed to unlocking the power of data to benefit people across the UK.

“The legislation we’re proposing will ensure that there are trusted and secure ways for people and organizations to use digital identities, should they choose to.”

Responding to the announcement, Sue Daley, director for technology and innovation, techUK, said: “Today’s announcements are a positive step forward in the UK’s implementation of digital identity. techUK has welcomed DCMS’s efforts in working with industry to get us to where we are today.”

“Given the next steps now being taken, continued cooperation between industry and government remains the best chance for a successful implementation of a digital identity ecosystem in the UK. However, we must also ensure we bring citizens on this journey with us: building public trust and confidence in Digital ID must be a key priority as we move forward.”

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