back to article 'Identity skills shortage' will be problematic for Verify ID. (So not the TECH FAILS, then?)

Departments must "work closely" with the Government Digital Service to ensure the ambitious pan-Whitehall identity assurance target of 2016 can be met, The National Audit Office has said. This is despite the fact the Verify identity assurance tool has so far had a shaky start. Last month a beta test of the tool drew many …

  1. Alister

    What on earth are the "identity skills" which we appear to be short of?

    Does it just mean that the average civil service drone has no personality?

    Or perhaps, not enough people trained in fingerprint recognition?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Now, I'm a lamp.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        I love lamp

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        No you're not... you're a newt. Here's hoping you'll get better.

  2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    It's not hard:

    function identity(x){ return x }

  3. Pen-y-gors

    Centralisation?

    Why this overwhelming urge to centralise things? I do my tax and PAYE online, ditto companies house filing. I contacted them, they sent me my user id etc. to my address. Remarkably simple system, and seems to work quite well. Why can't other departments do the same? They really don't need to link it all together.

    1. chrismeggs

      Re: Centralisation?

      I believe the objective is for the service to which you have logged on could gain access to information held in another service's soloed database, thus obviating the need for you yo continually log out and in to complete your task, or remember a whole raft go login information.

    2. chrismeggs

      Re: Centralisation?

      To allow the service to which you are connected access yo a database soloed by another service.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Centralisation?

        You yo continually and you yo a database.

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Centralisation?

      "Why this overwhelming urge to centralise things?"

      Deduplication. Or, in government speak, "efficiency savings".

      But what you describe isn't actaully decentralised, it's just lots of centres. And do you really want IDs and password for every government department? Contrast it with something like OpenID where a single ID is decentralised (lots of ID providers) and doesn't necessitate multiple signs on. Although, if the system was well designed and genuinely "user-focused", then it would allow us paranoid citizen-users to have a different ID for every department, if we wanted.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Centralisation?

        And it does. It's designed to allow you to assert via one of the 'registrars' that you are who you say you are without actually giving the government any information they don't need. So for the HMRC you might want to let Experian assert that you are who you say you are, while with the DVLA you might choose the Post Office.

        The cynic would however look at the Nexus where they all meet and say that whatever is filtered there, and all your information is captured there, but that's conspiracy theorist... ;-)

    4. chris lively

      Re: Centralisation?

      The only real reason is to make it easier on GCHQ and the police.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    What's identity?

    ISTM that theyre dealing with a very slippery concept.

    Someone presents himself at a web site or office claiming to be John Smith.

    Under UK law anyone can change their name to anything they want providing they're not doing so for nefarious purposes. One individual has variously adopted the names Jake Mangelwurzle & The Occupier. So providing that the person calling himself John Smith isn't up to some trickery he is a John Smith.

    But is he the John Smith on the birth certificate he's carrying (small print on the bottom of a BC says that it isn't proof of identity)? Is he the John Smith whose NIN is XY123456Z? Is he the John Smith who passed his driving test at Much Binding in the Marsh in 1972? Is he the John Smith convicted of GBH at the Old Bailey in 2001? Is he the John Smith who owns the credit cards he's holding with that name on them? His employers and neighbours may confirm he is John Smith but they only know that because he told them.

    From as data analysis perspective "John Smith" is simply a non-unique character string linked to a number of different attributes. The scope for mis-linking some of the attributes is considerable.

    What does the particular department's requirements in identifying him, not just as John Smith but as some particular John Smith out of many - which are the attributes which matter to them? Do other departments have the same requirements?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's identity?

      Agreed: A name is just an attribute of a persona that is tied to an entity (in this case a person).

      The identity of that entity is unique, unchanging (I am always me) and should be 100% anonymous and under my sole control.

      Unfortunately once governments get involved (not just the UK) they want to build a silo of "identities" that is under their control - a solution that will only fail.

      See the work on the Jericho Forum and their "Identity Commandments" or more latterly the work of the Global Identity Foundation.

      http://www.globalidentityfoundation.org &

      https://collaboration.opengroup.org/jericho/Jericho%20Forum%20Identity%20Commandments%20v1.0.pdf

  5. cantankerous swineherd

    stalking horse for id cards and the panoptican. indexed on NI number.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Since there are such things as temporary NI numbers, I assume it is possible for a person to have more than one. Probably not a good choice of index field, then.

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