During my recent visit to London for the OpenID Workshop, I was invited to present the mission of the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) to the programme board and a group of industry stakeholders of the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) Identity Assurance Team.

It was a timely demonstration of the OIX’s role of helping public and private sectors set interoperability standards, liability policies and governance mechanisms. It pairs well with the UK Government GDS’s mission to help citizens transact digitally with public services through convenient and secure login mechanisms.

In the recent blog, “Identity: Don Thibeau, at large in the UK,” the GDS’s Head of Comms & Marketing for Identity Assurance, Steve Wreyford, discussed the importance for all interested parties to come together to resolve issues around fraud and identity.

Addressing the fundamental challenges of how identity verification and authentication is done on public and private Internet economies requires the collaboration of everyone involved, including industry rivals. The OIX is essentially a “team of rivals” that are competitive within multiple sectors, but all aware of how identity is fundamental to driving new services and building on existing ones. In other words, to achieve the end goal, everyone needs to set their agendas and differences aside for the betterment of the whole, said Wreyford.

[su_quote]Sharing Don’s experience from the US will hopefully inspire suppliers in the UK to find a better way of working together to the benefit of all.[/su_quote]

Steve also recognized the common challenges we all share around identity assurance for government transactions. He understands how his team is being monitored by other governments around the globe to see if they can successfully make the transformation from traditional methods of serving citizens to harnessing the Internet and the power of online service provision like cost-savings and efficiency.

[su_quote]As we develop and enhance this solution over the coming months there is no doubt that with the ‘eyes of the world watching us’ the importance of continuing to explain our approaches will become more important.[/su_quote]

When it comes to Internet identity, the impact on how users are verified and how we serve them online is an important and fundamental challenge to governments worldwide. As OIX works with governments in the European Union, UK, US and Asia, it’s gratifying how there’s a real-time collaboration between and among governments at all levels. We truly all want to achieve the same goal.

As OIX aims to be a responsible partner to these governments, we understand that having the collective voices of multiple players in different industry sectors is critical to creating a partnership that establishes standards that hold up the value of knowing who individuals are on the Internet. No matter if someone is a citizen, customer or end-user, the public and private industry goal is to give them the security they need, the privacy they deserve, and access to the new services the Internet enables.

From the many industry leaders I’ve spoken to, there is an appreciation of the challenge the UK has taken on. What the GDS is doing is being viewed by other governments around the world as a test case of how the private sector is going to find its way to the kind of collaboration that will be required for the UK team to be as successful as we all hope it will be. A nationwide deployment like this is cause for commitment, “more like the pig than the chicken.” In other words, not just involved but committed.