The Cabinet Office's grand plan to farm out the handling of taxpayers' online identities to the private sector will almost certainly be subjected to primary legislation, The Register can reveal. Earlier this week, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude earmarked £10m for his department's ID assurance project. That cash is …
Waste of money
Totally unnecessary - HMRC already have a perfectly satisfactory system that lets me safely log in to their website and submit my tax returns using their excellent on-line system. Why do they need anything else?
This is where they find...
... that their "digital by default", er, buzzword, is missing the foundations.
Protection of citizens, and in an increasingly "digital", "cyber", "networked", or whatever you want to call it this week, world, that includes their personal data, is part of the raison d'etre for the state. It is why they have powers over those citizens. If they abuse that, and dropping the ball is abuse in the sense that it is dereliction of duty, well, look how loudly Blighty's governmental bigwigs are chastising other countries there. So why yes, outsource the whole thing to third parties, why don't you. Let's show us loudly and clearly what utter failures of policy you are. Carry on government.
"there will be no ID database"
There will be many, many ID databases instead.
Actually I think you'll find there already are - just not 'official' ones.
Even more exclusive
The Cabinet Office and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) hosted a conference on 21 October 2011 entitled "Ensuring Trusted Services with the new Identity Assurance Programme".
Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, announced that he had allocated £10 million from the cyber security budget to IdA (the Identity Assurance Programme).
The TSB is a grant-making quango with £300 million a year to invest. They have agreed £40 million of funding for 24 suppliers to IdA, see http://www.innovateuk.org/_assets/0511/tsb_trustedservicesdirectory520.pdf
So that's £50 million so far, not £10 million.
Mr Maude said in his talk that no primary legislation would be required for IdA. This was later corrected by someone else.
The assertion was made both by Mr Maude and Mike Bracken, the ex-Guardian SRO of IdA, that public services have to be digital by default because Martha Lane Fox says so. This enhancement to the UK Constitution is news to everyone.
Ms Lane Fox has also pointed out that over 9 million people in the UK have never used the web. So how will they access public services? Post offices and libraries, said Mr Maude. Less than convincing.
The Cabinet Office have had a while to think about this. These 9 million people will not be excluded from public services. There will be an "assisted digital" service for them.
What is the assisted digital service? That's all covered by the blog on GDS, the Government Digital Service, Executive Director, ex-Guardian man, Mike Bracken. On 28 July 2011, someone posted on the matter here, http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/2011/07/28/an-introduction-to-assisted-digital/#more-1054. That was the first post about assisted digital. And the last.
So how are the Cabinet Office going to serve 9.2 million people? Answers on a postcard, please.
The big question with the Cabinet Office, of course, is does anyone listen to them? There was no-one at the conference from the Home Office. Or the Department of Health. HMRC were there, they spoke briefly, and it was quite clear that they don't need IdA. DWP were there, they spoke briefly and it was quite clear that they were prepared to design their front end to UC (universal credit) to fit in with IdA. Which means using a lot of brown. So, no.
The Proposition Lead on IdA was there and confirmed that the Cabinet Office still have to think through what happens if somebody's identity is hijacked on IdA. He also confirmed that there is a certain amount of risk transacting over the web and we'd just have to live with it.
How is IdA going to assure identities? Still not clear. There was some talk of voiceprints and voice authentication. That was from DWP. And at least two of the TSB investees are voice biometrics suppliers.
Everyone said "agile" a lot, and "cloud". And "Martha Lane Fox".
"Protect taxpayer's ID"
So, if I'm too poor to pay tax, my ID can be stolen and misused at will?
The question that nobody seems to be asking
Once this private sector operated ID assurance scheme is up and running, who is going to be paying the bill for its day-to-day usage exactly? Will it be the various government departments that hope to be using it for normal every day transactions? Or perhaps more likely, will it be the end user (ie You and I ) who is requiring access to these government services? If it is the latter, what will be the level of transaction charges payable be?
Just a thought.
D Moss has the goods
Basically, there is no such thing as AN id for dealing with the government. There are many roles, some overlapping, some not. Individual departments and agencies have long since sorted out how they identify people for their various taxes, benefits, registers, licenses, etc.
The Cabinet Office, at one time, had a role with the ludicrously overwrought "gateway". Why? Who needs this central id? How will it map to all the separately gathered and verified ids across government? It can't. Let alone supersede them.
Of course, it is tempting to believe the centre of government can identify a citizen role with a single identity. But it can't. To my knowledge the Cabinet Office have been advised on this for at least 15 years without getting a clue. I don't expect that to change any time soon.
But is that even the point? As long as the seat-warmers have their budgets who cares?
How long before
You need a google account to access health care? Same old identity card plan being warmed over by same old civil service...