Scotland plans to give citizens a choice between multiple digital identity providers

Rather than opting for a single state-run solution, the government of Scotland has commissioned an analysis that instead suggests the country should explore and offer citizens multiple digital identity solutions.

The recommendation is a blow to the GOV.UK Verify system, which is still being considered for Scotland’s solution. But a report from Consult Hyperion and ASE, as summarized by UKAuthority, suggested that the government should consider offering people a choice of identity providers.

Specifically, the report cited “potential issues” with the reach of GOV.UK Verify as a reason to look elsewhere. Still, the U.K.’s digital identity solution remains a strong option for Scotland, as the report noted that there is no single digital identity provider that can address all needs.

The report recommends that the Scottish government support multiple identity providers, and give preference to those who can provide necessary authentication for services.

Scotland will begin an alpha phase for its identity assurance platform starting this August, running six to nine months. From there, a beta phase is planned to start as early as April 2019.

The country’s system will include a personal profile established with documents to prove a person’s identity. Verification can then be tied to a photo or voice recording, giving users access to various government services.

OWI Insight: Scotland’s fluid approach to online identity providers shows that there is not currently a single leader in the digital identity space. Australia has taken a similar approach with its own digital identity endeavor, allowing multiple accredited identity providers to authorize access to government services. We expect other countries will also follow this lead to encourage adoption and innovation in the digital identity space.