Friday, 12 September 2008

Local Government is behind the times in ID authentication reports that Experian has released a report revealing that while citizens are embracing new technology, Local Government is behind the times when it comes to identity (ID) authentication. (For full article see here).

Well no surprise there – although there have been a number of initiatives (I remember Radius and Viacode making proposals for the use of digital certificates for citizen authentication and registration as a Pathfinder project as long ago as 2002), for some reason Local Government just doesn’t seem to get the message.

From a technology point of view, the Government Gateway is potentially one of Central Government’s best initiatives in this area – but politics (and cross-charging) seem to have got in the way. Having been involved in the early stages of this initiative, I’m a bit out of touch these days, but to my knowledge there are still no more than a handful of councils (none?) using this technology to give their citizens a single log-in username/password for access to all Public Sector systems.

Central Government needs urgently to drive this project, both to assist the take-up of e-government across the whole of the Public Sector (not just Central Government, as has happened to date), but to secure electronic access for its citizens both now and for generations to come. To stop with just the GC Connect project for secure communications between public sector organisations is not enough.

After cost, the core issue for any such solution is to manage the registration phase properly, i.e. to confirm that when Phil Benton registers on a council web site, he really is the Phil Benton who lives at 123 Acacia Avenue, has a Midshire DC account no 987654 and a leisure card no 345678. Many companies believe they have found automated solutions for this process, but in practice I believe that we will inevitably move towards a face-to-face registration for the issue of a digital certificate (which can also be used for secure e-mail)

Unless, of course, we get citizen ID cards........

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