UK considers Facebook logins for access to public services

Social networking meets social security, as the Cabinet Office reveals it is considering Facebook as one of the firms whose login process can be used to get access to government services such as applying for a driver's licence.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Login details for social-networking services such as Facebook are being considered as a way of letting people use online public services, the UK government has said.

The Cabinet Office is working on its Identity Assurance (IDA) programme, a scheme that is intended to help people securely sign into online public services, without the need for an ID card. The login mechanisms for existing private-sector services are under consideration, and the office will say later this month which companies will be trusted providers.

On Thursday, a Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed to ZDNet UK reports that suggested social media firms, banks and mobile phone businesses are all in line.

"Facebook and people like that are potential providers," the spokesman said. "I'm not in a position to name individual companies that might be IDA providers [but] any ID assurance provider that can meet the level of assurance that we want can clearly provide that service."

ZDNet UK then asked what the Cabinet Office's assurance criteria are, and is still waiting for the reply.

The IDA scheme would be used for the Gov.uk site, which is being trialled as a unified portal for all government online services. The services covered include things such as applying for social security benefits, making council tax payments and getting a driver's licence. People would be given a range of login options, which is where these private-sector firms and organisations come in.

Facebook is, as far as social networks go, quite insistent on users offering up their real-world identities. That said, plenty of users still use fake names, and there is no way of verifying details such as addresses.

Banks clearly have a solid idea of their customers' identities and details, as do mobile phone companies, at least as far as contract customers go.

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