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Experian will close more than two million Gov.uk Verify accounts by March 2021, leaving users to find another identity provider (IDP) to be able to access government services.
The company, which has long been the biggest IDP, announced last year that it was withdrawing from the scheme.
Experian has now written to its 2.1 million users, saying that from 24 March 2021, “Experian ID will no longer work with government services and therefore your Experian ID account will be closed after this date”.
Up until 23 March, users can still log in using Experian, but after then, “when you access the service you will be asked to create a new identity account with one of the other Gov.uk identity providers”, Experian told its users.
Experian is not the only IDP about to end its services. When the IDPs were given the option to withdraw from the flagship digital identity programme, three of the five firms involved, Experian, Barclays and Secure Identity, decided to pull out.
This leaves two IDPs left: the Post Office and Digidentity. The Post Office and Experian have so far accounted for more than 80% of all users registered for Gov.uk Verify, so the loss of the latter is likely to have a huge impact.
Due to the “double-blind” privacy model of Verify, the government does not know which Verify users are associated with which IDP, and so cannot directly target those users to inform them of the impending change, leaving it up to the IDP to inform users that their account is closing.
Read more about Gov.uk Verify
- The recent 18-month reprieve for Verify came with strict conditions – the digital identity scheme must not be added to any more services, and existing users must find alternatives.
- Lisa Barrett, director of digital identity at GDS and head of the troubled Verify programme, is leaving government as funding questions remain ahead of budget.
- Cabinet Office gives more non-answers on the future of Gov.uk Verify.
The Cabinet Office told Computer Weekly that two IDPs remain available for users to sign up for a Gov.uk Verify account, and that how to do this is explained both by Experian and in guidance available online.
Originally, funding for Gov.uk Verify was due to end by April 2020. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Treasury gave the Cabinet Office approval to continue the programme for up to a further 18 months.
The Verify project started in 2013 with the objective of replacing the Government Gateway, which had been used across government since 2000. However, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) decided to develop an updated version of Gateway for its tax users instead.
More than 11 million taxpayers used HMRC’s systems to submit their tax details in the past financial year. Verify currently has 6.6 million registered accounts.