Hancock launches online verification service and data protection framework

A new identity verification service will be implemented across government websites from next week, cabinet office minister Matt Hancock said yesterday as he announced new measures to safeguard data online.

Hancock said that GOV.UK Verify will go live next week, and at the same time launched the new Data Science Ethical Framework.

The framework requires those using data to make policy to follow six principles:

  • Start with clear user need and public benefit
  • Use data and tools which have the minimum intrusion necessary
  • Create robust data science models
  • Be alert to public perceptions
  • Be as open and accountable as possible
  • Keep data secure

A recent Socitm briefing warned that GOV.UK Verify suffers from potential problems including difficulties with children and the elderly gaining verification and aligning with local authority citizen’s account registers, Scotland’s and identification based on NHS numbers.

Hancock said: “Transformation is disruptive, and it’s understandable people worry.”

He said the new Digital Economy Bill, included in this week’s Queen’s Speech, would help further the use of technology such as blockchain to improve services “within a strong framework of data protection and protection of personal information”.

Measures in the Bill include better sharing of data between government departments around issues including debt to public agencies.

It will also establish a legal right for citizens and businesses to apply for a fast broadband connection, addresses differences in online and offline copyright law, impose fines on those sending spam e-mails without consent and require age verification for all sites containing pornographic material.

Dame Fiona Caldicott, the national data guardian, and David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, issued new guidelines on data guarding in the NHS, as reported in PSE’s sister title National Health Executive.

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