ID cards aren’t dead, they’ve just been privatised.
The main feature of welfare reform is replacing a host of benefits with Universal Credit. Not only will those on out-of-work benefits have to switch, but also those on in-work benefits like Housing Benefit and Tax Credits. The DWP want everyone to apply for and update Universal Credit over the internet and part of that is proving your identity through a third party service.
“The identity registration service will enable benefit claimants to choose who will validate their identity by automatically checking their authenticity with the provider before processing online benefit claims.”
The DWP have today announced their choice of commercial providers of this identity service. You get to choose from The Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, and Verizon but if you want Universal Credit then you have to do it.
Even more worryingly, the DWP press release states
“The online Identity Assurance model will be incorporated into Universal Credit as it’s developed and rolled-out. Over time Identity Assurance will become available to all UK citizens who need to access online public services.”
The intention is obvious; when all government services require Identity Assurance everyone in the country will have to sign up. A cynical view would be that by starting with benefit claimants who have no choice the scheme gains momentum before other people can object. The “ID card” may be virtual only, but the lack of a physical card doesn’t change the problems inherent in an identity database.
13 November 2012 – Providers announced for online identity scheme [DWP press release]