One Login: GDS convenes privacy and inclusion advisors

A dedicated group – featuring representatives from organisations including Privacy International and Big Brother Watch – has been formed to hold to account government’s identity programme on issues of privacy and inclusivity

The Government Digital Service has convened a dedicated group of academics and civil society representatives to oversee work on the One Login programme and advise of issues of privacy, accessibility and inclusivity.

The One Login Inclusion and Privacy Advisory Group (OLIPAG) was formed late last year from the merger of two bodies which previously advised government on similar areas: the Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group; and the Privacy and Inclusion Advisory Forum.

The newly united group – which features 20 members from organisations including Privacy International, Big Brother Watch, Age UK, and Citizens Advice – met for the first time on 9 November.

According to OLIPAG’s recently created GOV.UK page, the group “aims to ensure that GOV.UK One Login maintains privacy for users and is an inclusive and accessible service” by enabling members ti “provide independent guidance, feedback and analysis on various aspects of the GOV.UK One Login programme as the number of users and services expands and new features are added”.

Although the merger has narrowed the focus of the advisory unit to the new government-wide login platform, the website adds that “OLIPAG’s expertise may be sought by other parts of GDS or wider government [and] members may also seek updates on topics relevant to digital identity from other parts of government”.

The group – which is co-chaired by Edgar Whitley from the London School of Economics and Louise Bennett from the Digital Policy Alliance – is intended to meet roughly on a quarterly basis. Members are expected to take part in at least half of these meetings, which will also be attended by at least one senior manager working on the One Login programme.

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The newly published minutes of the group’s initial meeting indicate that 14 GDS employees were in attendance, alongside eight board members.

The document reveals, with the group now focusing solely on a new technology on an ongoing major government project, a new ‘code of conduct’ has been introduced – including a stipulation that, in some specified cases, members will be party to information “that is marked as sensitive and not for onward sharing [and thus] cannot be shared outside of OLIPAG”.

During the November meeting, GDS officials provided group members with a presentation on its “user segmentation work… to baseline coverage of the programme [and] estimate how many people in the UK population can use [One Login] overall, and each of the user groups accessing each route” of proving your identity and creating an account. As part of this work, the digital unit plans to measure how various factors might impact the ability to access the login tool across differing groups of users.

This is likely to include exploration of the implications for the estimated 10% of the UK population that cannot prove their identity with a passport or driving licence. At OLIPAG’s next meeting, GDS staff will discuss with members plans for a “face-to-face identity-checking route” to be delivered at Post Offices.

Issues raised by members present at the initial meeting in relation to access issues experienced by different groups included a concern that “any users may seem to be ‘online’ but their families may have set them up and users are really not online” and that “many older people don’t always have more than the basic technical skills… and can often be concerned about putting personal information”, according to the minutes.

In addition to the co-chairs, the other 18 members of the group are:

  • Margaret Ford, Consult Hyperion 
  • Sam Smith, Med Confidential
  • Colin Griffiths, Citizens Advice 
  • Tom Fisher, Privacy International
  • Lizzie Coles-Kemp, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Mariano delli Santi, Open Rights Group
  • Silkie Carlo, Big Brother Watch 
  • Gavin Freeguard, Open Data Institute
  • Sally West, Age UK 
  • Chris Pounder, Amberhawk 
  • Mark Durkee, Centre for Data Ethics
  • Hannah Whelan, Good Things Foundation 
  • Nadine Trout, Rural Services Network 
  • Brendan Shepherd, Unlock 
  • Elizabeth Anderson, Digital Policy Alliance 
  • Helen Dobson, Citizens Online 
  • Swee Leng Harris, King’s College London
  • Bryn Robinson-Morgan, Moresburg Ltd

Sam Trendall

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