THE CHALLENGES OF ONLINE IDENTITY

Online identity is an increasing challenge with consumers, professionals and citizens alike storing an enormous amount of data on the World Wide Web. Internet identity is the point of convergence and the future of online commerce.

The UK Cabinet Office has embarked on a project to simplify the identification process for government services and Open Exchange Identity (OIX) members playing an important role in the development of this large identity ecosystem. OIX with the UK Cabinet Office have invited key commercial leaders to share best practices and come up with open standards regarding online identity in the UK.

OIX’s Chairman and President Don Thibeau, a leading expert on the subject of online identity, shares his insights on the matter.

What are the origins of Open Identity Exchange?
OIX was formed in 2010 at the request of the White House to act as an industry partner in the development of the US National Strategy for Trusted Identity in Cyberspace and was the first trust framework provider certified by the US Government.

OIX now works with many governments and industries globally to build trust in identity. OIX is a neutral, technology agnostic, non-profit trade organisation where members from across multi-business sectors come together to share domain expertise, joint research, and pilot projects to test real world use cases to drive the expansion of existing online services and the adoption of new online solutions.

Why does identity trust matter?
With the Internet becoming less trustworthy every day, we need to know and trust those that we transact with online. Trusted transactions are the engine of our economic and social lives.

On the subject of trust, various companies like Sony or Ashley Madison have seen their data leaked online. As an expert on the subject of identity, how can brands build trust in the digital era?
Trust can be built and maintained through transparency. Being transparent about what we do and how we do things is the basis for trust in personal and organisational brands. Subsequently, transparency has the benefit of establishing trust whilst enabling interoperability. Both are required for to increase trusted transactions online.

On a wider issue, OIX and the UK Cabinet Office are effectively building an ecosystem. What is the rationale behind it and what are the challenges?
One doesn’t build an ecosystem, one swims in it, that is to say ecosystems are made up of supply chains and markets. Cabinet Office’s Digital Government Service (GDS) is trying to catalyse a market of identity services that provides for a richer and broader set of identity service providers. By adopting open standards, HMG creates more competition. OIX and the UK Cabinet Office’s initiative place a significant emphasis on partnership with the commercial sector.

What more can private industry be doing to help OIX achieve its aims?
Cabinet Office and GDS recognised that new and ambitious identity services programs like GOV.UK Verify. would encounter business, legal and technical challenges. Prudence required new and agile ways to work across business sectors to mitigate risk and contain costs so that all stakeholders benefit.

Where do you see the role of innovation coming from entrepreneurs?
Innovation by both the government and commercial sector may be a critical success factor in the success of programs like GOV.UK Verify.

OIX now works with many governments and industries globally to build trust within identity. OIX is a neutral, technology agnostic, non-profit trade organisation where members from across multi-business sectors come together to share domain expertise, joint research, and pilot projects to test real world use cases to drive the expansion of existing online services and the adoption of new online solutions.

OIX is privileged to work with a number of international governments, how does the UK Cabinet Office digital identity initiative compare with other global schemes?
The UK Identity Assurance Program’s GOV.UK Verify initiative is at the centre of the world’s attention as it is the preeminent example of leveraging open standards in a large population sized Internet identity program.