WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
If you want to surveil, or serve, a society better as a government the best way to do that is to join all your systems together.
As governments everywhere try to find a way to sneak in digital ID’s for their citizens by the back door the UK government has announced that it has selected Deloitte to develop a digital identity mobile application to enable access to public services in the country. The secure one stop shop app, aptly coined One Login for Government, will allow citizens to prove their identity online and access government services and finally give the government a single view of people and their behaviours.
The UK government’s flagship project for digitising public services’ is expected to go live in May 2022 and will be fully deployed by 2025. The One Login project will see a single online account for citizens to access all the public services they are entitled to, from healthcare and benefits to education and housing.
This will include a universal digital identity platform, which will allow people to log in securely to multiple services with one set of credentials. Reports have estimated that implementing One Login may cost the country around $550 million.
The initial project was dubbed GOV.UK Verify, and has been ongoing for almost close to a decade. It has consistently been plagued with technical issues and suffered a lack of support from some government departments.
When it comes to digital identity, there is no one size fits all solution. Different countries have adopted different models, each with its advantages and disadvantages such as China’s Social Credit Scoring System which many see as an example of how single digital ID’s can be used in a dystopian tool to control and influence its businesses and population in line with government ideals and wishes.
The UK Government has been working on developing a UK digital ID for citizens for a few years now. However, there are some challenges that the government faces in terms of implementation as well as blow back from civil rights campaigners and privacy advocates.
One of the challenges is ensuring that the system is secure, user-friendly, and does not put citizens’ privacy at risk. According to a survey by Statista on current attitudes towards online personal data use and privacy carried out in the UK in 2021, more than half of the respondents said they were more concerned about their online privacy than a year ago.
Another challenge is getting people to use the digital ID system, as many people particularly of a certain age are still reluctant. There is the question of how to roll out the system so that most UK citizens adopt it.
According to the 2022 Digital Trust Report by digital Okta, 76% of the British public would be comfortable incorporating their data into a digital ID card. However, 34% of the population don’t trust the government’s digital services — this is due to overcomplicated transactions (21%), data fears (56%), and past issues when using digital services (20%).
Estonia was one of the first countries in Europe to embrace digital identity verification and so far it’s worked well with the country even now having a digital backup of itself in Luxembourg in case they’re invaded like Ukraine.
Citizens of Estonia can access all government services online, including voting, tax returns, and even medical records. The country’s eID is a secure identity authentication system underlying the function of all digital services, including the digital signature. This includes e-health and e-prescription, and Estonia is the first country in the cloud.