Put passports on the blockchain, think tank urges UK government, to create digital identity for public services

 
Lynsey Barber
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A single digital identity underpinned by blockchain has been proposed by Reform (Source: Getty)

Passports should be put on the blockchain, along with other official forms of identification, to create one single online identity for citizens, a think tank has urged.

Blockchain's distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be used to create a single source of authenticated information and using it to underpin public services could speed up payment of benefits as well as reduce security risks, according to a new report from Reform.

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A single app powered by blockchain should be built for use across departments, which can often request information, for instance for a tax credits applications, which is already held somewhere else, like when a passport is issued.

The think tank also suggests that this app should be paired with biometrics so that the public can give approval for the use of information using a thumb print or face scan with their smartphone.

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The government is currently trying to build out its online identity checking service Verify - something that the government said it wants to roll out to 25 users by 2020 - however, Reform notes that a significant department, HMRC, has yet to use it.

There have been tentative experiments with blockchain for government services, with a trial for making benefits payments. Elsewhere, Estonia is pioneering digital identity with blockchain technology.

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