UK government pushes universal virtual ID scheme

By John Glenday | Reporter

November 4, 2014 | 2 min read

The UK government is to press ahead with a voluntary virtual identity system that will grant ID holders access to the panoply of public services online through a unified portal.

In future anyone wishing to update their personal data, file their tax return or apply for a driving license will be able to so through one website rather than a multitude of existing platforms should they sign-up to the ‘Verify’ system.

In excess of half a million people are confidently predicted to do so within a year, applying simply by authorising an online security check to obtain their username and password before obtaining an activation code via their mobile phones.

Ministers are keen to embrace online services as part of an efficiency drive, mindful that transaction costs are up to 20 times lower than those conducted over the phone, 30 times cheaper than by post and 50 times less than face-to-face – netting savings of up to £1.7bn a year.

To reduce ever-present worries over the security of online data the government has pledged not to host a unified database but instead contract out the work to five private companies; including Experian, Verizon and the Post Office.

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A government spokesperson said: “The government is not making any money from this at this point and has no plans to turn it into a revenue- generating service. There are potential commercial opportunities given the technology and capability we’ve developed. However, this is decision for the future.”

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