Residents of the United Kingdom will soon have a new way to prove their identity online when they access government services. It’s called GOV.UK Verify.
The government’s digital services team launched a public beta of the program in October after months of private testing. It’s touted as offering protection from ID thieves and those wanting to fraudulently access sensitive data.
When the program is ready for full implementation, residents who want to access services will have their identifies verified by certified third parties instead of a government database. “When you want to access a service using GOV.UK Verify for the first time, you’ll be asked to choose from a list of certified companies,” says Janet Hughes, a member of the Government Digital Service team that designed the program.
The certified companies, like Verizon or Experian, are also known as identity providers. “Your chosen certified company will ask you for some information and carry out some checks to establish, to a defined level of assurance, that you are who you say you are,” Hughes writes in the government’s Identity Assurance blog. After verification, “your certified company will give you some sign-in credentials that you’ll be able to use to access an increasing range of government services.”
Those services include tax credit renewals, change of address, and farming information.
“The Government’s aim is that all the services that need identity assurance for individuals will be using GOV.UK Verify by March 2016,” Hughes writes. “Between now and then we will gradually add more services and increase our ability to operate at the scale required for the full range of user needs and demand.”