UCDx was set up in 2020, but the UCD proposal has evolved gradually over a much longer period:

  • In 2000, or thereabouts, John Harrison was granted a couple of patents (which have now expired) in the field of online identity. He then he made a living for a while under the banner of a tiny consulting company, Edentity
  • Over time he realized that the true problem was not just ‘digital identity’, but rather User Control of trustworthy personal Data (UCD), defined broadly to include many different trustworthy attributes, such as qualifications, student-status, prescriptions, DBS status, and even health records. And there was no need for legal identity to be sorted out first; in fact to do so would almost be counterproductive.
  • In 2011, JH agreed with Jisc and the University of Hertfordshire to set up a hybrid company – half owned by (parts of) the UK’s education sector and half privately – to develop infrastructure for UCD. The Technology Strategy Board(now InnovateUK) provided a grant to help with costs. The company is called PIB-d Ltd.
  • PIB-d carried out a technical feasibility study, and then – in 2012 – made itself dormant when it became clear that public-sector attention in the field would be dominated by a Cabinet Office sponsored scheme, gov.uk Verify. JH contributed to Verify, working through Lloyds Register as the tScheme assessor for all of the Verify identity providers.
  • In 2020, when Verify had clearly failed, PIB-d won a further grant from InnovateUK and used the money to set up UCDx as a community interest company. UCDx’s role is to act as an advocate for UCD-type infrastructure and – if successful – then evolve into a public interest governance body for the scheme. As a community / public interest body, UCDx is necessarily independent of any commercial interest. PIB-d may, in time, submit a bid – in a competitive tender run UCDx – to become the development company for the UCD scheme.