gov.uk Verify was a scheme to enable individuals to prove their legal identity online to government. Government could easily have chosen to award a single large contract to just one identity provider, and then presented the result under the gov.uk brand. However, it chose instead to award contracts to several Identity Providers (IdPs, initially seven), and allow individuals to choose between them, based on brand strength and other factors.
The fact that individuals could choose an IdP from a managed market was a step towards the idea that it was the individual commissioning the IdP to act as their agent. But this was never really the case: the IdPs were always commissioned, and paid for, by government. And it is government which has decided to end the Verify scheme (probably sometime in 2022) and so terminate the provision of services by IdPs to individuals.
UCD is different. An individual will choose a PDS from a managed market, probably at the invitation of a learning provider, just as individuals chose a Verify IdP at the invitation of government. But, in contrast to Verify:
- the PDS provider will be commissioned by the individual, and will act – principally – as the individual’s agent;
- the individual will, in theory at least, be able to use their PDS to share any kind of trustworthy personal data between any parties (including individuals), not just proof of identity from IdP to government; and
- in normal circumstances, only the individual will be able to decide to dispense with their PDS provider’s services.