quietly disrupts the problem of online identity login

The Guardian: “A new “verified identity” scheme for is making it simpler to apply for a new driving licence, passport or to file a tax return online, allowing users to register securely using one log in that connects and securely stores their personal data.
After nearly a year of closed testing with a few thousand Britons, the “Gov.UK Verify” scheme quietly opened to general users on 14 October, expanding across more services. It could have as many as half a million users with a year.
The most popular services are expected to be one for tax credit renewals, and CAP farm information – both expected to have around 100,000 users by April next year, and on their own making up nearly half of the total use.
The team behind the system claim this is a world first. Those countries that have developed advanced government services online, such as Estonia, rely on state identity cards – which the UK has rejected.
“This is a federated model of identity, not a centralised one,” said Janet Hughes, head of policy and engagement at the Government Digital Service’s identity assurance program, which developed and tested the system.
How it works
The Verify system has taken three years to develop, and involves checking a user’s identity against details from a range of sources, including credit reference agencies, utility bills, driving licences and mobile provider bills.
But it does not retain those pieces of information, and the credit checking companies do not know what service is being used. Only a mobile or landline number is kept in order to send verification codes for subsequent logins.
When people subsequently log in, they would have to provide a user ID and password, and verify their identity by entering a code sent to related stored phone number.
To enrol in the system, users have to be over 19, living in the UK, and been resident for over 12 months. A faked passport would not be sufficient: “they would need a very full false ID, and have to not appear on any list of fraudulent identities,” one source at the GDS told the Guardian.
Banks now following’s lead
Government developers are confident that it presents a higher barrier to authentication than any other digital service – so that fraudulent transactions will be minimised. That has interested banks, which are understood to be expressing interest in using the same service to verify customer identities through an arms-length verification system.
The government system would not pass on people’s data, but would instead verify that someone is who they claim to be, much like Twitter and Facebook verify users’ identity to log in to third party sites, yet don’t share their users’ data.
The US, Canada and New Zealand have also expressed interest in following up the UK’s lead in the system, which requires separate pieces of verified information about themselves from different sources.
The system then cross-references that verified information with credit reference agencies and other sources, which can include a mobile phone provider, passport, bank account, utility bill or driving licence.
The level of confidence in an individual’s identity is split into four levels. The lowest is for the creation of simple accounts to receive reports or updates: “we don’t need to know who it is, only that it’s the same person returning,” said Hughes.
Level 2 requires that “on the balance of probability” someone is who they say they are – which is the level to which Verify will be able to identify people. Hughes says that this will cover the majority of services.
Level 3 requires identity “beyond reasonable doubt” – perhaps including the first application for a passport – and Level 4 would require biometric information to confirm individual identity.