Close ☰
Menu ☰

Identity Assurance: Mydex’s unique contribution

Posted on: Thursday 15th of November 2012

On Tuesday the Government announced that Mydex, a Community Interest Company/social enterprise and one of the Personal Data Store providers in our recent PDS market review, is one of a select group of private sector Identity Providers that will start offering an identity assurance service to DWP customers.

As part of our analysis of the announcement we highlighted our plan to conduct some interviews with those involved in the market to gain some new insights into where the IDA programme leads us. Claire Hopkins spoke to Mydex CEO David Alexander about Mydex’s view and unique contribution*.

What is the overall significance of this announcement today?

The announcement is the first step in delivering a cross government IDA programme and it’s a clear signal that the Government wants to empower citizens to engage with public services in a different way. The citizen centric approach of the IDA programme is a critical aspect of its design and is the complete antithesis of the centralised National Identity Scheme ditched a few years ago.

Now, via a new, federated market of accredited, private sector identity assurance services – of which Mydex is proud to play a part – individuals can choose who provides them with identity verification and then use this in their dealings confident that their personal data will be handled securely.

Underlying the IDA programme is the Government’s Digital by Default agenda encouraging people to access government services online with the aim of cutting costs and enabling improved customer service. If the agenda is to take off we need this new privacy friendly identity assurance model so that government departments can have the confidence they are dealing with the right person, and so that individuals can trust Government services and have a high quality, cohesive experience.

How will it work in practice?

There will be multiple user journeys. An individual may want to access a service provided by DWP via their website. Before they can do so they need to choose from a panel of Identity Providers who they wish to verify their identity. It’s completely up to the individual who they choose – and, should they wish to, individuals can have different providers for different transactions. The Identity Provider then goes through the process of assessing the individual’s identity via credentials such as a Drivers Licence or Council Tax bill. They award the individual a token with a score marking their identity assurance level. This is passed onto the DWP to enable the right transaction/service entitlement.

What is Mydex’s market offer?

If the individual wants to use Mydex as their Identity Provider the process is slightly different. They first have to set up a Mydex Personal Data Store. We cannot act on an individual’s behalf unless they own a Personal Data Store and we think this adds a new level of utility and value.

Via their Personal Data Store the individual has an enduring record of their credentials which they can develop under their control over time. We use these credentials to provide the individual with their identity token but it’s the enduring nature of the store which provides particular value. The individual can use their MydexID as a federated login to government services saving time and hassle in remembering dozens of different passwords. Also, because their Personal Data Store is a persistent service, it can act as a ‘digital letterbox’.

How do you see the market changing?

Equipping individuals to manage their life online is essential if we are to reap the benefits of the digital age, and giving people the ability to control their identity is just one aspect of this. With the IDA programme the Government is making it easier for people to do business and interact with organisations both in the public and private sector – removing latency and improving efficiency by putting the individual in control. This is recipe for positive change and we are delighted to be part of the market solution.

* Note ‘Our Shareholders