The Cabinet Office has confirmed it is in discussions with internet firms including Facebook and Google to explore ways of authenticating people when using public sector services.
In April, Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, confirmed the government was to create a national identity database to allow Britons hassle-free access to online services.
The aim is to create a pool of accredited identity assurance services, piggybacking on the work of financial services firms such as Experian or Visa, which have already invested heavily in finding ways to identify individuals.
Now the Cabinet Office has confirmed to The Register it is discussing how internet firms such as Google or Facebook could participate in the identity assurance scheme.
“As more public services move online, we’re exploring ways to make accessing those services easy,” a Cabinet Office spokeswoman told Computing.
While some of those online services would require a high level of assurance about a person’s identity – say, filling in a tax return – others may set a lower barrier.
There remains a lack of detail around how internet or social media companies could help in confirming identity, however.
For example, when pressed, the spokeswoman could not identify a single service where supplying an email address, such as a Gmail address from Google, would be a useful form of identity check.