Photo by Deena Englard on Unsplash

Please Can The Public Sector Prove My ID Once … And Get On With It …

Please can I have my identity back, and stop asking me to prove it?

Prof Bill Buchanan OBE
5 min readOct 1, 2021


Our Blockpass ID Lab focuses on identity, and where we look at citizen privacy and how citizens can gain access to services in a trusted way. In our current research work, we are integrating cryptography methods that support citizens gaining trusted credentials once, and then using them many times. We hope to break down data silos, and support the free movement of citizens across our borders.

Stuck in the 20th Century

Today I tried to register for the Scottish NHS Vaccination Status App, and I just wasted my time. As far as I can see, I couldn’t use the existing ID that I have used for my “unsecured” PDF verification and was now faced with a new verification system. Personally, I really don’t understand why I keep having to prove my identity to so many government and health care services. A while back I registered for Yoti to prove my ID, and it guided me through the process and kept me up-to-date on everything I needed. I could then keep all my trusted ID proofs within the App, and could then log in to a Scottish Government service using my App. It was a great experience. So, why hasn’t this approach been scaled — along with other trusted identity providers — in order to access every government and health care service?

We have been talking about the integration of citizen identity in Scotland in the health and social care for over a decade, and yet there are very few signs of this ever progressing past the most basic services.

And so …

And so for the Scottish NHS Vaccination Status App, I scanned in my driving licence and it didn’t recognise my face. The reason? Well, the new driving has poor photo quality, so is not much use in proving identities. So I turned to my passport, and which worked well, but when I went to verify my face:

The App showed the oval for my face, but my face was not there. It said “Too close” or “Too far”, but there was no face in…



Prof Bill Buchanan OBE

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. Based in Edinburgh. Old World Breaker. New World Creator. Building trust.