On the UK’s Forthcoming Trust Framework: National Digital Identity in “Alpha” - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

UK’s Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP, recently released a memo detailing the forthcoming UK-centric trust framework, a digital identity standard applicable to all industries, organizations and users that rely on it. Expunging the need for physical documents to prove your identity, Warman poses that this new framework—currently in “alpha”—could solve identification problems digitally without the need for a national identity card.

What the Framework Could Do

According to the Digital Identity Call for Evidence, a working memo released by the government last year, the framework commits to do the following:

  1. Create a clear framework of rules that show what an effective digital identity model looks like
  2. Establish governance and oversight to own such rules, keep them modern and ensure that they are followed
  3. Establish safeguard for citizens and ensure anti-secure digital identity legislation is blocked or removed

The goals are broad and lofty, fit for the initial discussion of the idea at hand. To Warman and his department, though, the final goal is simple.

“I want the trust framework to help facilitate a clear understanding between people using identity products, the organizations relying on the service and the service providers, letting each party know data is being used appropriately and kept safe,” he says.

“Alpha” Status

The current trust framework is in its first stage industry prototype, also known as “alpha” stage. It’s collaborative and is being tested among a range of stakeholders to ensure cross-industry needs are met. It also allows relying parties—civil society, other government departments and the public sector—to give feedback as the product is being developed.

“It is not my department’s intention to provide any new or ready made solutions for actual products—we will be relying on the creative and innovative drive of industry to build these and the services that meet the needs of consumers from all walks of life,” says Warman. “The trust framework is intended to set out the rules for these services, to provide the playing field on which business can operate. More detailed rules which are specific to their sector—what we call schemes—can develop within this framework.”

Next Steps

The concept of a national trust framework has stemmed far beyond the UK, gaining traction in Australia, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand. Warman hopes to keep touch with these advancements abroad to ensure interoperability with the UK’s own upcoming digital standard.

“The trust framework is also central to the Government Digital Service’s work with other government departments to develop a new cross-government single sign-on and identity assurance solution. This will ensure interoperability of identities and associated attributes between sectors in the longer term,” Warman said on the future tech of the framework.

Onward, Warman plans to incorporate the feedback from the users of the alpha model and with it, move the framework into a second iteration.

“This updated version will contain the details for the certification process explaining how organizations can be assessed as meeting the requirements of the trust framework,” he says. “These will allow us to begin ‘sandbox style’ testing of the trust framework in partnership with sectors and organizations to ensure it meets their needs, while meeting our robust standards.”

He urges readers to help the UK government by reading the document and sending feedback by Thursday, March 11. Readers can complete the post-read survey here.


Olivia Baker is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review from Columbia University, where she writes on tech policy and national digital identity technologies.

Contact Olivia Baker at olivia@identityreview.com.

Do you have information to share with Identity Review? Email us at press@identityreview.com.

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