UK.gov withdraws life support from flagship digital identity system. RIP Verify. Finally.

Reposted from the original source: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/10/10/govt_withdraws_life_support_from_gds_flagship/ By Andrew Orlowski 10 Oct 2018

It’s official: the UK state’s expensive-but-comatose digital identity system Verify has been taken off life support.
Identity disorder: Does UK govt need Verify more than we do?

The minister responsible confirmed to Parliament yesterday that it will halt funding for the project after cash has been exhausted – and it’s up to the private sector to decide whether to keep the vegetable alive.

But it’s an unenviable option. The government can no longer guarantee that Verify will be an exclusive or even preferred ID system for public services.

“The Government expects that commercial organisations will create and reuse digital identities, and accelerate the creation of an interoperable digital identity market,” said Oliver Dowden, Minister for the Implementation [sic] at the Cabinet Office. “This is therefore the last investment that the Government will provide to directly support the GOV.UK Verify programme. It will be the responsibility of the private sector to invest to ensure the delivery of this product beyond the [stated] period.”

It’s no surprise – Verify lost the confidence of Whitehall years ago. The project was launched in 2011 (as “Identity Assurance”) with the goal of providing a single sign-on ID for public services ranging from tax collection to benefits. The goal was to have 20 million users by 2020. Consultants and the Cabinet Office’s Nudge Unit dreamed (PDF) of it playing a role for consumers, too.

“The days of creating different user names and passwords for every new website are numbered, thank goodness,” promised GDS Maximum Leader Mike Bracken* in November 2011.

A successful identity framework would mean departments didn’t have to roll their own. But that’s exactly what happened. HMRC was obliged to extend the ageing Government Gateway itself, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided Verify couldn’t cut the mustard for the Universal Credits system, as we exclusively revealed here. DWP also had to develop its own identity system. The other big service, the NHS, never took Identity Assurance/Verify serious in the first place.

People had problems too, as the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones found in 2014. Two years later, the success rate for creating new identity accounts was just 72 per cent.

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