How we introduce GOV.UK Verify

GOV.UK Verify logo

This is a version of a talk we give with slides when we meet people face-to-face who need to know about GOV.UK Verify - usually government colleagues from different departments, or representatives from private sector organisations.

Verify is the new way to prove who you are online slide

GOV.UK Verify is a new way to prove who you are online.

Verify gives safer, simpler access to services

It’s designed to give people safer, simpler access to government services.

Most people are using the internet more and more to do the things they need to do - like banking, shopping, communicating, and work.

GOV.UK Verify allows people to do their government business - viewing their driving licence information or applying for Universal Credit, say - simply and safely.

So government can be sure users are who they say they are

Government must be sure that people are who they say they are when they’re using these kinds of services.

And users can be sure no one is pretending to be them

And people using these services must be sure their information is safe, and private.

The digital transformation of people’s lives, and of government, means the onus is on government to provide universal access to these kinds of services. We believe government should make these services so good online, that people prefer to use them.

Government services must be convenient.

But convenience can’t come at the expense of safety or privacy. And we know fraud and identity theft is a real and growing threat.

GOV.UK Verify has been built to address this tension and the threats posed by fraud and identity theft. It’s a new, safer way to do your government business online, designed for the internet we have today and to adapt to challenges it might present tomorrow.

Before now - and everywhere, not just in government - answers have always involved big, central databases. These may be convenient, but they are not secure.

Verify does this in a completely new way

GOV.UK Verify has tackled this problem in a new way, because the old ways of doing things aren’t good enough.

Instead of storing information centrally, GOV.UK Verify works with independent certified companies, as a kind of safety network.

When you use GOV.UK Verify, one of these certified companies checks multiple sources of information, in order to verify that you are who you say you are, to government.

Visual representation of the relationship between users, Verify and certified companies

The certified company you choose checks a range of sources to do this

You choose from a list of companies certified by government to do this. Each company has a different range of sources to check.

For example they might ask for information from your passport, or bank statement

They might confirm with one source about a piece of information you give from your passport. And they might confirm a second source about a piece of information you provide from your bank statement.

In one sense, these are standard verification methods. But it’s also completely new: it’s never been possible for a user to do this online before, with no central storage; and this kind of federation - with public and private organisations working together for greater security and privacy, is also new.

You don’t need to wait for codes in the post, or post things yourself, or go in person to prove your identity somewhere.

Here's a short video to show how it works

This video walks you through how it looks when you use GOV.UK Verify online.

Verify limits the information government, or any certified company holds

GOV.UK Verify is built as a federation - where responsibility is shared by a network of different organisations - because this limits the information government, and any certified company holds, to an absolute minimum: no one has the whole picture.

Government does not know which certified company you choose, or what information you give them, or what information they check. And the certified company knows nothing about the government service you’re using.

No one has more information than they need to perform their function

And there is no central database

There is no central storage, or database, anywhere.

Slide of timeline showing when Verify went live in May 2016, showing the Alpha phase in 2013 and Beta in October 2013

GOV.UK Verify moved from beta testing to live in May 2016.

We continue to test, research and develop GOV.UK Verify based on feedback from users.

There are a range of high quality companies certified to verify identity for GOV.UK Verify - this slide includes company logos

A range of companies are certified to verify identity for GOV.UK Verify.

Certification is a long, rigorous and ongoing process where companies have to meet and maintain standards set by government and by independent external bodies.

A growing range of government services depend on Verify

A slide showing the services currently connected with Verify, with 20 more to join in the next year

More and more services depend on GOV.UK Verify, and it will eventually become the default way for people to access services online (businesses will still use Government Gateway).

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