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Economy Economy

Oblige all digital companies to support new digital proofs of identification

Last updated: 12:56pm 13 September 2019

We will oblige all digital companies to […] support new digital proofs of identification.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.78

Our verdict

While the internet may well be established as the standard way of doing business, the ability to prove our identity and the validity of documents still has some way to go. This policy promises to address that by protecting digital businesses and consumers alike, and making it easy to do business online. In fact, under the heading ‘The best place for digital business’, the manifesto says:

“We will make doing business online easier for companies and consumers. We will give businesses the right to insist on a digital signature and the right to digital cancellation of contracts.”

Since the election, the 2017 Industrial Strategy did claim the government is “exploring” how it can support conditions so that “transactions can be approved and paid for with a digital signature”. However, no laws have been passed or proposed that “oblige” digital businesses to support new digital proofs of identification.

There has, however, been progress on establishing a market for digital identification. A number of steps have been set out, including:

  • A consultation on how to deliver the effective organisation of the digital identity market.
  • The creation of a new Digital Identity Unit – a collaboration between DCMS and Cabinet Office.
  • The start of engagement on the commercial framework for consuming digital identities from the private sector for the period from April 2020.

Away from government activity, PASS (the Proof of Age Standards Scheme) also provides identity documentation that can be used online as well as in person. But while the government clearly supports the use of PASS scheme identity cards, there is no obligation for online businesses to support it.

Although there are legal requirements planned or in progress yet, the groundwork being done on creating a digital identity market is a sign of activity towards this promise. Still a way to go, but given some work is under way this policy is ‘in progress’. Follow for updates.

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