What the Chancellor could learn from the Open Web

One of the government’s most unpopular policies in the past few years has been the national ID card scheme. Although they’ve got quiet on all this and other huge IT projects in the past year or so, the project is still under way, albeit with so many compromises that any benefits that could have justified the excessive cost (estimated at £6bn) are now invalid.

But the Chancellor’s Budget introduced a new scheme which could give him a complete solution to everyone’s satisfaction, without him spending a penny. It’s not clear if he’s seen it.

Identification is vital to many forms of communication on the web, and we all have dozens of logins and passwords distributed across dozens of system.

OpenID is not software or a service. It’s not a company or organisation. It is simply a method of allowing you to use a single login for multiple websites. The key to this is that you choose who to handle your details, whether it be Google, Microsoft, Twitter or even your own server. You’ll have seen this when you see one of these “The application xxxx would like to access your Facebook details. Do you trust them?”.

The Chancellor announced bank accounts for all citizens. Effectively, everyone will have a bank account. Bank accounts issue credit/debit cards to their account holders. And these are forms of ID.

Those IDs could be used anywhere. If the government want to check your ID to give you a passport/pension/health/benefit, they could check your bank card. The banks will be able to add any security methods they like in order to secure the identity of the provider, be it biometric, photographic or secret key.

The government doesn’t have to spend a penny on issuing unpopular ID cards. There will be no national database of people. I can choose who to trust with my ID. And most people are already signed up.

That’s £6bn saved. Now all we need is to swap the NHS database for Google Health, and we’ll have saved ourselves the national debt.