RSA 2012: Government Identity Assurance Programme ‘Open To Anyone And Everyone’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Deputy director at the Cabinet Office, Chris Ferguson, tells TechWeekEurope programme is open to anyone who thinks they can do it

The government’s Identity Assurance Programme will be open to anyone who can pass the compliance tests, including those without a significant digital presence.

That’s what the deputy director at the Cabinet Office, Chris Ferguson, told TechWeekEurope, following reports that Facebook and bank logins could be used by citizens for their government-related identity. Citizens will use that identity to access government services via the website.

Don’t have to be a Facebook

“Any organisation could be an identity provider,” Ferguson said, at the RSA 2012 conference. “The way you become one is through government certification for becoming one. Whether you’re a major telecom provider, a bank or whoever you are, we are not discriminating by sector, you don’t need to be a big digital actor already.

“It’s likely there will be people interested in this who are going to have a large user base… but it’s not restricted in that sense. Whether you are a big social media company or whether you are a small regional provider of services who thinks this is something you could do, you will [have to meet] exactly the same standards.”

On 22 October, the Department for Work and Pensions (DwP) will release its framework, listing the first tranche of providers whom it could use. The DwP will be the first department to trial the new identity programme, as part of the Universal Credit system, which is replacing the old benefits model.

The first government Identity Assurance project won’t go live until October 2013 at the earliest, Ferguson said.

Other departments will learn from that model and base their own approaches on it. “We want to mature the framework so that we can add identity providers,” he added.

Are you a security expert? Find out with our quiz!