Towards a digital ID – part 13

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This is the latest in a series of blog entries about the Jersey government’s work towards introducing a digital identity scheme for the Island.

Procurement progress

We are making good progress towards being able to announce the specifics of how digital ID will work in practice.

Since my last update, we have been carrying out detailed due diligence on one tenderer and its proposed digital ID system. This has included the usual range of activities such as:

  • checking references
  • building a good holistic understanding of the tenderer and the tender proposal. This covers a broad set of areas including strategic, operational, technical, security and commercial
  • thinking through what would be involved in an operational rollout and managing the service in-life
  • gathering Islanders’ feedback about the potential solution and identifying any tweaks that it may need to work well in Jersey

New data available

In December, the Statistics Unit published the the results of the 2017 Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. Chapter seven provides some data that wasn’t readily available before. It allows us to estimate the proportion of Jersey’s population that could obtain and use a digital ID:

Passports

When you visit a States department, your bank, or many businesses and need to prove who you are, your passport will be accepted as the highest quality form of evidence. This is because there is a rigorous process to obtaining a passport, and obtaining a false one is very difficult. They have a range of security features that make them very difficult to forge. Her Majesty’s Passport Office regularly refines the design to ensure that it reflects the latest technology and is several steps ahead of the forgers.

Living on an island, travel by plane and ferry is part of island life, so we expected that most people would have a passport. The survey shows that the proportion is even higher than we thought: 97% of Islanders have a valid passport – compared to 83% in the UK according to their 2011 census. This confirms to us that basing the Jersey digital ID on people’s passports should work well.

An electronic representation of your passport will be as strong a proof of who you are as your physical passport, but you will be able to use it to prove your identity securely with those who you choose to share your details with over the internet.

Driving licences

92% of Islanders have either a Jersey or UK driving licence. Driving licences are not as strong a form of identification as a passport but are easier to obtain, and more convenient. The value of a digital identity is based on its continued provenance, so it would be best to base a digital identity on a passport. A driving licence could be a useful fallback for those who do not have one.

Jersey issues its own driving licences. We could integrate the digital ID system with the driving licence database so that the digital ID data can be double-checked against the information that government already holds.

Financial products

Some government services require people to prove where they live, for example to confirm that they are entitled to something, to check that correspondence can safely be sent to that address, or to help distinguish between people with similar names living at different addresses.

How can we prove where we live in a digital way?

Neither passports nor Jersey driving licences have the holder’s address printed on them. There’s an address held in the driving licence database, so in principle we could find out people’s current addresses that way. Islanders do have to inform their parish when they change address – the law says you have to do so within seven days – but unfortunately not everybody does so.

A source of data commonly used in the UK is from someone’s financial footprint. When you open a bank account or apply for a loan or a credit card, the bank or finance company runs credit checks against data held by a credit reference agency. You’ll have agreed to this when you signed the agreement – there will be something about it in the small print. One check is to make sure that the address you give matches the address that is held on their records. When you tell your bank or loan company that you’ve moved, your credit record is automatically updated. Other companies – such as the identity providers in a digital ID solution – can access the same data for a small fee.

99% of adults in Jersey have a bank account, and 73% of adults have a credit card.

We expect to use both the driving licence data and credit reference agency data.

Smartphones

Of the 93% of the population that has Internet access, 76% did so through a smartphone.

For the seven percent who don’t use the Internet a digital ID probably won’t be of much value. A further 7% of people who told us that they won’t use a website to access government services. They probably won’t want a digital ID. That leaves 86% of Islanders who might use one.

For those who would find a digital ID useful, a smartphone is likely to be a convenient way of accessing it:

  • Most people who have a smartphone carry it with them most of the time
  • Smartphones are valuable and useful. Most people take care of them and would quickly notice if theirs was lost or stolen
  • Smartphone apps can make use of the phone’s functions such as cameras and location services, and can store encrypted information
  • The latest models have finger print readers and can do facial recognition
  • Some Android phones can read the chip that is embedded in a passport
  • Many people already use their mobile as a way to authenticate when logging in to a website. They receive a code in a text message and have to type it into the site, or use an authentication app, for example from their bank

All of the options that we have evaluated support smartphones as part of their solution, or plan to do so.

Next steps

Work on due diligence will continue through January. If all the lights remain green then we hope to proceed to contract in February.

 

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