The government will announce which private companies will allow their online identity and authentication services to be reused for public services on October 22nd, according to the Independent newspaper.
The Cabinet Office confirmed that these ‘identity providers’ will be announced ‘on or after’ that date.
Announced last year, the government’s Identity Assurance scheme will allow citizens to sign into online public services using third party identity systems, such as their social network or banking accounts.
To date, the only organisation known to be in the running to become an approved ‘identity provider’ (IDP) under the scheme is the Post Office. In February, the Post Office tendered for partners to help build its identity infrastructure.
The Independent reports that "the Cabinet Office is understood to have held discussions with" high street banks, mobile phone companies, and technology companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, PayPal and BT.
The aim of the Identity Assurance scheme is to provide more secure authentication for online services without building a centralised identity register. Instead, it operates on a federated identity model, in which authentication is securely shared between the IDPs and government departments.
The scheme has been cautiously welcomed by privacy campaign groups, who see the absence of a central register as less risky for citizens. However, there are other concerns, including the impact on citizens who may not be eligible for private identity services, such as the homeless.