Categories: InnovationSecurity

Government Urged To Launch Blockchain-Based ID Assurance Overhaul

Blockchain technology could be used to revamp the UK government’s digital identity assurance efforts by providing a cross-departmental approach that “puts the individual at the centre of identity management”, think tank Reform argues in a new study.

Blockchain is a decentralised digital ledger technology used most famously to power the Bitcoin virtual currency and is now being trialled in areas such as financial services and food safety.

Reform said the government digital service’s digital identity management efforts had stalled with Gov.uk Verify, whose uptake has been “slow” in part because the information it provides is insufficient for some transactions, meaning departments need to request and check additional data. As a result departments such as HMRC have continued to use their own independent systems.

The use of blockchain would be an improvement because it would move control of public service identity “from government to the individual”, said Reform in the study, “The future of public service identity: blockchain”.

Cross-departmental network

“A blockchain network could be built across several departments and would act as a thin layer on top of current databases,” Reform wrote. “This layer would enable citizens to view their data, via an identity app on their smartphone, and grant government access to it.”

Automated updates would ensure databases contain current information.

“This means moving from siloed departments holding different and even contradictory versions of a person’s identity to a user-stored identity, in an identity app on a smartphone,” said the report.

Biometrics such as a face scan or fingerprint could add an additional layer of security, it said.

Reform argued the government should emulate Estonia, which is using blockchain to “hand back control of data to the citizen”.

The country gives citizens a unique identifier “allowing them to access their health records and review requests by third parties to access their data, meaning their privacy is ensured”, Reform said.

Does IoT security concern you?

  • Yes (89%)
  • No (11%)

Loading ...

Data sharing model

Citizens would be given two encrypted keys, one private and the other public, used to share information with public services.

“Taking the example of the passport, the individual would only use their public key when verifying their information with the Border Force,” Reform said.

HMRC has, in fact, built a proof of concept demonstrating the use of blockchain to coordinate the efforts of government agencies at the UK border, the department said earlier this year.

Blockchain “could radically change the relationship between the individual and the state,” Reform said. “Now is the time for the UK government to embrace this technology and remain a truly entrepreneurial, digital state.”

How well do you know the cloud? Try our quiz!

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Recent Posts

Norway Hit By DDoS Cyber Attacks From Pro Russian Group

Norwegian national security agency warns pro-Russian group has targetted private and public institutions in Norway…

2 hours ago

Google Tells Staff They Can Relocate After Roe v Wade Ending

After US Supreme Court last week removed women's reproduction rights, Google tells staff they can…

3 hours ago

Taiwan Developing Own Digital Currency – Report

Central bank of Taiwan confirms it is still working on its digital currency, but has…

4 hours ago

Tesla Cuts 200 Autopilot Jobs, Closes San Mateo Office – Report

More restructuring at Tesla with hundreds of bob losses and California office closure, where staff…

6 hours ago

US FCC Commissioner Urges Apple, Google To Remove TikTok

Fresh worry for TikTok, after FCC Commissioner writes to Apple and Google about removing the…

6 hours ago

Airbnb Permanently Bans Parties, With Few Exceptions

Victory for irate neighbours? Airbnb confirms its temporary Covid ban on parties in its listings…

7 hours ago