There’s a group of people here at GDS working on a programme called IDA - which stands for Identity Assurance. We’re helping develop a secure service that lets people log in to online government services more easily.
There’s been a lot of press comment about the programme today and we’re delighted to see that we’re (mostly) managing to get our message across - because this can all get quite complicated. The key ideas are these:
There’ll be no big IT programme and no big government database
Instead, users will be able to prove who they are using accounts they already have with a wide range of non-government organisations.
Users will be in control of their own information
By offering people a choice of how to login to services people stay in control of how they verify their identity.
We’re working with the people who know and care most about privacy and trust
The Privacy & Consumer Group who have been helping us create the privacy principles for this service includes experts like No2ID, Big Brother Watch, Which?, London School of Economics, Oxford Internet Institute and Privacy International. They've been instrumental in how we address users needs for privacy and security.
It is, of course, a bit more complicated than this and we’ll be explaining more over the next weeks and months but that’s the essence.
If you’d like to know more the Q&A in The Independent gives a pretty good overview (the only thing we’d really quibble with is the headline).
EDIT (05/10/12): there's been a short follow-up in The Independent today.