A national identity verification scheme 'without the need for identity cards’ is the latest government plan to end the need for people to produce passports and utility bills before entering important transactions. A consultation paper published without fanfare today seeks 'insights and evidence into how government can support improvements in identity verification and support the development and secure use of digital identities and ensure that the potential benefits of this approach are open to all'.

According to a joint announcement by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Cabinet Office a secure and easy way of proving identity, or a detail such as age, 'would help support innovation, reduce fraud and cost, safeguard our privacy and streamline online services.' 

Any new system will be compliant with newly strengthened data protection laws, the government said. 'There will be no central identity database and individuals will be in control of their personal data.' 

Evidence gathered in the consultation will inform policy making and government priorities, the document states.  

National identity schemes have a dismal track record in the UK. The only peacetime national identity card, introduced under the Identity Cards Act 2006, was cancelled in 2011 as one of Theresa May’s first acts as home secretary in the coalition government. The government-backed voluntary online verification service, gov.uk.verify, was this week given a red rating by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Meanwhile an attempt to introduce compulsory age checks on viewers of adult websites - the so-called 'porn law' - was shelved last month after it emerged that the government had failed to notify the EU of the measure. 

Responses to the digital identity call for evidence should be sent to digital-identity-cfe@culture.gov.uk by midnight on 15 September.