Maude Puts £10m Into ‘Little Brother’ ID Scheme

RegulationSecurityWorkspace

Private sector will help users access government sites, says Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude

Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, will inject £10 million into an ID scheme to allow users to authenticate themselves and access government services online more easily.

The  Identity Assurance (IDA) programme is not a “big brother” programme like the cancelled ID card system, but a “little brother” scheme, Maude told a London event yesterday. It is intended to support the government’s goal of making services  “digital by default” – saving money on paper and staff as citizens use the web instead for tasks like paying tax and claiming benefits.

Maude is taking the £10 million from the government’s £650m cyber security budget, and expects the programme to be mostly run by the private sector, using federated identity services.

Users will control data

“To deliver the Identity Assurance programme it is imperative that we encourage and work with the private sector,” Maude told the event. “The government will aim to provide a supportive role so that companies can develop solutions that work not just for us – but also for the citizen,” he added.

The goal is to make sure citizens are confident to engage with government online, Maude said, adding that civil liberties would be protected. Instead of consolidating large amounts of integrated data, identity data would be controlled by users, rather than government.

While the private sector will produce the identity solutions, government would focus on setting standards and encouraging the development of a market for them, with an emphasis on moving quickly to meet growing user acceptance of online services.

“It is no longer acceptable to develop large scale government ICT projects while user demand for, and usage of, digital identity services continues to develop so quickly,” said director of digital services, Mike Bracken, who will lead a newly-established central Identity Assurance programme team. “Previous timelines have extended for many years whilst in the mean-time the ability of users and technology move on apace.

“We intend to work with the private sector and in government to develop protocols, standards and cross-Government web services rather than large IT projects, and to do that we need an environment in Government where technology leaders in the identity space can flourish. By placing the Identity Assurance programme within the newly created Government Digital Service, we will ensure that user needs will be put at the forefront of what we do, based on user demand for new and existing Government digital services,” he added.

The idea will still have to convince some people. “There is a classical tradeoff triangle that government has to contend with in providing services to citizens – that of privacy (or freedom from scrutiny), security and convenience,” a reader identifying himself as Paul commented on a government digital service blog post by David Rennie, proposition lead for the Identity Assurance Programme in the Cabinet Office.