TechUK demands gov action on digital identities for COVID recovery

The government must put digital identities at the heart of its post-COVID strategies to enable the recovery from the recession, according to techUK.

A new whitepaper from the trade association sets out the essential part that safe and secure digital identities will play in the UK’s economic recovery from the crisis, giving examples of where it is needed and citing the clear economic benefits.

It argues that the UK’s policies on digital identity have gone astray in seeking to separate public sector identities from private, laying out nine recommendations government should follow to rectify the deficiencies. These include:

• Government should take the lead by putting digital identities at the heart of the forthcoming Digital and Data Strategies.
• Greater government collaboration with the private sector to establish standards, interoperability, trustmarks and an oversight system to form a market for digital identity services across public and private sectors.
• Revising legislation which still mandates the use of out-dated paper forms of identification.
• Accelerate action to extend the Document Checking Service to private sector companies.

Since early 2019, techUK has been pressing government to take action, pointing out the role digital identities must play in the success of the digital economy.

It argues that fully functioning digital identities would allow consumers seamless and secure access to online services to apply for jobs, obtain mortgages and pay their taxes - citing a recent McKinsey report which estimated this could boost UK GDP by up to three per cent, while the savings in terms of fraud and identity-theft could be as high as 40 per cent.

Julian David, chief executive of techUK, said: “Having safe and secure forms of digital identity is an essential requirement for a world class digital economy, however, we won’t achieve this by accident and we need a clear strategy that brings together both the public and private sector now to get this done in 2020.

“If your company operates in the digital identity sector and you join us in resolving the UK’s digital identity challenge please make sure you get in contact with us at techUK - we need a diverse set of voices around the table to make sure we get this done quickly but more importantly, done right.”

Commenting on the report, Yoti chief executive and chair of techUK’s Digital Identity Working Group, Robin Tombs, said: “Digital identity can fundamentally support the UK's economic and social recovery by streamlining many digital processes.

"It sits at the heart of processes right across the economy: getting people back to work with right to work checks; increasing people’s mobility with health credentials at airports; preventing fraud with effective, remote Know Your Customer checks for financial services," he continued, adding: "The techUK Digital Identity Working Group is keen to see the development of a healthy ecosystem of digital identity companies working across the public and private sectors, with a strong focus on consumer needs and privacy.”

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