Plans have been announced to allow the use of an existing login, such as one used for Facebook or Tesco, to access all central and local government services.
Login fatigue, which results from the need to remember a range of usernames and passwords, is a growing problem for Internet users. But solutions need to take account of growing identity theft and increasing cybercrime. Whilst an international group including Google and Facebook are looking at ways to tackle the issue, the Cabinet Office has stepped in with an ID approval scheme which involves users accessing a single site, Gov.uk, with the ID they use to access other online services.
Users will be able to choose one of their existing IDs from a list of approved organisations. The approved list is likely to include the Post Office, high street banks, supermarkets, mobile phone companies and technology giants ranging from Facebook and Microsoft to Google, PayPal and BT.
The authentication process will be handled by the approved organisations in the same way it would authenticate the user who wished to access one of its own services. Using this third party process will not be a threat to the privacy of users, because the organisation will not know which central department or council the user is accessing.
Once they have logged in correctly by computer or mobile phone, the site will send a message to the government agency authenticating that user’s identity.
The new ‘Identity Assurance Programme’ will be used for services such as tax credits, fishing licenses, student loans and passports. More information about the Programme will be announced later this month and it is expected to start operating in April 2013.