Government is hard at work with IT industry partners to crack the problem of identity assurance, says Nigel Harrison of the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA).
The initiative, being led by the Cabinet Office, is essential to government commitment to delivering services online, he told Computer Weekly.
In May, the Cabinet Office announced government plans to help create a market of private sector identity assurance services.
Nigel Harrison says it is likely the UK will soon see the emergence of multiple providers of identity assurance services specialising in different types or levels of assurance.
This will enable citizens to choose their own identity assurance providers depending on what level of assurance is required. Harrison said no single provider would necessarily have guardianship of all identity information about any individual, he said.
Harrison said he personally supported the idea of claims-based identity, where identity assurance providers validate only what is necessary - such as year of birth - and nothing more.
Moving public services online is a key objective of the UK government, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office told attendees of the EastWest Institute's Second Worldwide Cyber Security Summit in London on 1 to 2 June.
"We are committed to delivering services online wherever it is possible in line with the concept of 'digital by default' established by Martha Lane Fox in her role as the government's digital champion," Francis Maude said.
Maude said identity assurance was key to the smooth running of public services online. The UK government is working hard on standards to underpin a new approach, he said.
The Cabinet Office has indicated that it expects to have a first prototype of the identity assurance model by October 2011, with a date for implementation from August 2012.