British citizens may soon be assigned new digital ID cards as part of Dominic Cummings' strategy to transform the way the government uses people's data.
According to The Times, the idea of introducing new ID cards came after it was found that the government had no information to verify the identity of over one million people claiming emergency support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, the Office for National Statistics said revealed that the total number of people in employment in the UK fell by 730,000 from March - July: the largest quarterly decrease since May - July 2009.
In June, former PM Tony Blair said that the government should introduce new digital ID cards to enable people to prove their 'disease status' as various countries relaxed lockdown measures.
He argued that industries such as foreign travel will restart only if travellers are able to easily prove that they are clear of coronavirus. Mr Blair also stated that the new system would operate alongside the government's track and trace programmes.
Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said that people expect the government to make it easier for the Britons to use digital identities safely, quickly and securely.
The new digital ID card will enable people to use their online identity for various activities, such as booking GP appointments, proving their age, and buying properties at different locations.
As part of the plan, the government could also amend laws to eliminate the need for landlords to check tenants' immigration documents. Bar owners would be able to digitally verify the ages of drinkers and witnesses would no longer need to be physically present to attend signings on property deals.
However, Cummings' plan has already been criticised by some groups as violation of data privacy.
The Open Rights Group told The Times that they don't support the idea of digital ID cards for Britons.
"If the public don't trust that their data is going to be secure, they are not going to engage with the system no matter how seamless or frictionless," Matthew Rice of the Open Rights Group said.
Boris Johnson's top aide Mr Cummings has been critical of privacy laws in the past. In 2018, he described the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) "a legal and bureaucratic nightmare".
"American law massively reflects the interests of powerful companies. EU law, including GDPR, is a legal and bureaucratic nightmare," he said in a blog post.
"The UK has, thanks to Brexit, a chance to regulate data better than either."
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