The United Kingdom is Gradually Launching a Digital ID System

The United Kingdom is moving towards a national digital ID system. Following two years of being relatively silent, the Government Digital Service began revealing its GOV.UK One Login program, a broad-based digital identity program. 

According to Ken Macon of Reclaim the Net, Tom Read, GDS Chief Executive, and Natalie Jones, Director for Digital Identity, recently laid out the vision and the program’s current state, labeling it as a transformative shift with the goal of facilitating the public’s day-to-day interactions with government services.

Digital ID systems are centralized in nature and present a unique threat to privacy and civil liberties, despite their fancy marketing about being efficient and high-tech. Macon noted that the digital ID is “A centralized system aggregates all individuals’ personal data in a single repository, creating a high-value target for hackers and increasing the risks of data breaches.”

Macon added:

These systems may also allow for excessive surveillance and tracking of individuals, posing a threat to personal privacy and freedom.

The One Login system allows individuals to authenticate their identities for several central government services via a web channel or an application. The process is accelerated  through the usage of passports, drivers’ licenses, biometric residence permits, and knowledge-based verification. Furthermore, the app gives users the ability to confirm their identities by matching a selfie with their passport photo.

Since first being implemented, the service has made major progress, with over 819,000 accounts created, and 2.15 million app downloads. 8 government services, which includes the Disclosure and Barring Service and the Home Office’s Modern Slavery Statement Registry, have incorporated the system so far.

Additionally, the system has plans to incorporate more services such as Companies House, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the veterans’ identity card. What’s more, a face-to-face identity verification method and a call center to aid users are set to be rolled out in the upcoming months.

By Spring of 2024, a major transition is slated to go down as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the British equivalent of the IRS, will begin instructing new users to One Login, kicking off the migration of current accounts from the Government Gateway. The end of March 2025 is the timeframe that’s slated for the majority of government services to be incorporated into One Login. Over 100 services are expected to be onboarded.

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