Law lecturer publishes article on the Government's electronic identification scheme

8 August 2018

Henry Pearce has recently had a paper published in a notable law journal on the compatibility of the UK Government's electronic identification scheme with EU data protection law.

Henry Pearce, lecturer in law at the University of Hertfordshire, has recently had an article focusing on the legality of the UK Government's electronic identification scheme (Gov.UK Verify) published by Computer Law & Security Review (CLSR), an international journal of technology law and practice which provides a major platform for publication of high quality research, policy and legal analysis within the field of IT law and computer security. In 2015 the journal was the first of its kind in the world to be indexed in the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports for Social Sciences.

The article, entitled 'The GDPR: A game changer for electronic identification schemes? The case study of Gov.UK Verify', was co-authored with colleagues from the University of Southampton (Sophie Stalla-Bourdillon and Niko Tsakalakis) and comprises of an interdisciplinary analysis of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the context of electronic identification schemes.

Gov.UK Verify, the UK Government's electronic identification scheme, and its compatibility with some important aspects of EU data protection law are reviewed. An in-depth examination of Gov.UK Verify's architecture and the most significant constituent elements of both the Data Protection Directive and the imminent GDPR - notably the legitimising grounds for the processing of personal data and the doctrine of joint controllership - highlight several flaws inherent in the Gov.UK Verify's development and mode of operation.

The article advances the argument that Gov.UK Verify is incompatible with some major substantive provisions of the EU Data Protection Framework. It also provides some general insight as to how to interpret the requirement of a legitimate legal basis and the doctrine of joint controllership. It ultimately suggests that the choice of the appropriate legal basis should depend upon a holistic approach to the relationship between the actors involved in the processing activities.

For further information regarding Henry's publications and current projects, please contact him via email


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