Digital minister: ‘It’s important to the government that the British public has confidence in how we use their data’
In a piece written for PublicTechnology, parliamentary secretary Alex Burghart discusses progress with One Login and the significance of legislative changes
Alex Burghart is a parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for supporting the work of the Government Digital Service Credit: Cabinet Office
Government is always challenging itself to upgrade its processes to improve the service that citizens receive and the ease with which they receive them.
Here in the Cabinet Office we are in the process of undertaking small but significant changes that will dramatically streamline the ways in which the public can access services online.
The GOV.UK One Login programme will mean that people will no longer need multiple usernames and passwords to access different government services. They will be able to login, prove their identity once and then use that proof again and again. This will make online life easier for users and cut government’s costs by ending the need for each department to run its own identity verification process.
To do this we are making small changes through the Data Economy Act 2017 to allow certain government departments to share some specific data on an individual – but only for the express purpose of proving identity. We will only ask for the minimum amount of data required for you to access a service smoothly and safely.
This is not about creating identity cards or mandatory digital identities. This is an additional service, not a replacement. Citizens will retain the option to use offline services, such as by post, over the phone or in person to prove their identity if that is their preference. But the lesson of One Login so far is that where we have given people the option, people have really warmed to it – with several services using the platform and more to follow.
It’s of particular importance to the government that the British public has confidence in how we use their data, so any sharing within government will be done in line with protections enshrined in the UK’s – rightly – robust data-protection legislation and guarded by our latest cybersecurity measures.
This is just the latest step in modernising the way we make services available. Soon we hope the people using the platform will find it so normal that they’ll take it for granted that accessing government services should be quick and easy, and forget it was ever more complicated than One Login.
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