Digital

myaccount – signing in to online services

April 7, 2014 by 17 Comments

What is myaccount?

myaccount will give people across Scotland a secure and easy way to access public services online. myaccount is designed for people who wish to use services – such as pay council tax bills or request parking permits –  from Scottish public sector organisations online, rather than go into a local office or send a letter through the post.

We know that not everyone will want or be able to access services online themselves and alternative means will continue to be available (e.g. visiting local offices in person or contacting them through the post).   But for the increasing numbers of people who want to access services and undertake transactions online at a time that suits them myaccount will provide a secure and convenient means to do so.

There will be many tasks you can do online without needing to sign-in. However, when you do need to sign in, using myaccount will give you one username and password for secure and trusted access to all public services across Scotland.

Here we set out how myaccount will work and why it is secure.  If you wish to ask questions or comment on the approach you can do so below.

Where can I use myaccount?

Some public services have already chosen to use myaccount and you will see this on their websites from Spring 2014.  Currently local authorities and the NHS are able to use the myaccount service,   but organisations are at different stages of readiness and not all will offer services online – and use myaccount -immediately.

We know that there is demand to access services of other organisations such as housing associations online and we will expand the number of services you can access with myaccount in the near future.

Why set up myaccount?

We understand that when you undertake a transaction online you want to be confident that it is secure, that your identity is protected and that someone else cannot do it pretending to be you.

The Scottish Government has agreed to set up myaccount with Scotland’s wider public sector so you know that your transactions are secure with all public service providers. By using myaccount you will not be asked to repeatedly provide the same information every time you access a service.

Two steps to getting started on myaccount

To access services on-line using myaccount you will follow two simple steps: 

Step 1: Register via mygovscot to create a myaccount.    Once you have created the account you will be given a unique username and a password. 

Step 2: Use this username and password to sign-in to many of your local services online.

Once you have received your username and password you can safely sign-in to use an on-line public service.  This sign-in – where you give your user name combined with your password – is a key part of protecting your identity.   It will provide you with the assurance and confidence that your order or payment is attributed to you and public organisations with the confidence that they know who is accessing their service.  In other words this system provides secure and trusted access to online public services.

Not all services will require a myaccount to access them e.g. if you simply want to register to receive email alerts about events in your region you will not need to sign-in. But if you want to request a special waste uplift, pay a bill or receive a delivery then it is important that both you and the public service organisation can be confident that the transaction is actioned for the correct person.

How will this work?

If you visit a website of a public body – such as your local council – you will be asked to sign in.

If you already have a myaccount you will be taken to the mygovscot site where you will supply your sign-in details.  Having done so you will be automatically and securely returned to the Council site to use the service you want.

If it is your first time signing in for online public services you will be invited to create a myaccount before you can sign-in.  The Council or public organisations website will direct you to the mygovscot website (signin.mygovscot.org) where you can create your myaccount.  mygovscot is being developed as a one stop shop where citizens, businesses and visitors in Scotland will be able to go to access online public services.  The mygovscot webpage www.mygovscot.org will be live from 9 April and the website as a whole will develop over the rest of the year.

Trusted, secure access: Signing in with your unique myaccount username and password allows public sector organisations to verify that you are who you say you are.  It also gives you the confidence that nobody else but you can access your account.

What information will I provide and how is it checked?

If you wish to create a myaccount you’ll be asked to provide some basic information to verify your identity and your address.

You will need to provide your full name; date of birth; gender; postal address and an e-mail address.

To verify your identity and ensure your online transactions are secure myaccount will check your name, date of birth and gender against publically available information held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) – the public body that records births, deaths and marriages.

In the unlikely event your information cannot be matched you may also be asked for your place of birth or mother’s maiden name.  This would also be checked against the information held by National Records of Scotland and would not be shared any further.

When a myaccount is created a unique reference number, also provided by NRS, is attached to it.  The address you have given will also be used to ensure the account is set up only for you.  It will be matched against an existing but separate register of property addresses, compiled by local authorities.  Each address has its own Unique Property Reference Number.

Most importantly, these steps ensure your account belongs to you and only you.  It makes it easy for public services to ensure no duplicate records or fraudulent applications are created.

Increasing your ‘assurance level’: Once you create your myaccount, you’ll be able to access certain services right away. For some services which require a higher level of assurance or more information, you’ll need to provide some further information about  who you are. You may be asked to provide a known fact, such as a council tax number or in a very few cases you may need to provide photographic evidence.  Once you provide this additional information, you’ll be able to access all services that require a higher level of assurance; so you only have to do this once.

Is this an approach that is tried and tested?

myaccount builds on the approach taken when individuals apply for a card to allow concessionary travel.  Up until now, application for a National Entitlement Card has been on a paper form.  The information on the form is checked and held by the Improvement service who then arrange for issue of a card.  (In future you will be able to apply for a Card on-line.)

By building on an existing service we know that we have a system that works and that will be cost-effective.

What happens if my details change?  How is my information protected?

The mygovscot myaccount keeps you in control of your personal information.  You will be able to check and update your details on-line – for example if you change your address.

When you set up your myaccount you will have the option of allowing the core information you provide  – name, date of birth, gender and address – to be shared with the public service providers who use myaccount.  This means that any updates you make, such as a change of address, can then be passed on securely to the public service providers you use by attaching your update to the unique reference number that goes with your account.  This means you will not have to update organisations separately.

If you choose not to give consent, service providers will usually need to ask you for this information separately so that they have the information they need to give you the right service.

This approach to information sharing complies with the Data Protection Act and the Scottish Government Identity Management and Privacy Principles.

Who is providing this service?

The Scottish Government considers that the people of Scotland will prefer a public sector, not-for-profit body to be responsible for “myaccount”.  This contrasts with the UK Government’s approach of individuals setting up an account with a private sector body.

The myaccount service was developed and is operated by the Improvement Service who, like most public bodies contract with a specialist company for ICT support.  The Improvement Service is a not-for-profit publicly funded organisation that works to improve the efficiency, quality and accountability of local public services.  It was originally established to support local government but now supports the public sector more widely.  myaccount is funded by Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government will not have access to the information that individuals provide except where a unit of Scottish Government is a service provider, for example, the Agriculture Directorate that deals with applications from farmers for payments.

What range of services will I be able to access with myaccount?

Legislation allows National Records of Scotland (NRS) to share its data with local government organisations and the health service.  Sharing this information is key to ensuring that Scottish residents can access their public services online in a safe and secure manner.

We know many people also want to use services from housing associations and other government bodies online.  To ensure that you can have the same standard of secure access to these services through myaccount the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation later this year.   Further information will be available on this later in the year.

Storing your details securely

The Improvement Service stores your details in a secure manner within Scottish, world class facilities so that there is no improper access or improper sharing.  They have carried out a Privacy Impact Assessment so as to ensure their systems meet this objective.  This Assessment follows guidance issued by the Information Commissioner.

The Improvement Service will only hold those personal details set out above.  The Improvement Service does not and will not hold any information about the services you access or the transactions you undertake.


Comments

  • Do you have any plans to inter-operate with the UK government equivalent service, gov.uk Verify, or will citizens have to register twice?

  • graham worrall says:

    Service useless. Can not change old address to new. Can not access services. Can not raise query on form provided. Phone response was from someone who had no solution and did not follow up

  • Another key argument is that HTML5 is more susceptible to cyber-attacks than its predecessor, potentially making
    internet security much more difficult to maintain for individuals.
    If you live in a rural area, you may be under the impression that dial-up is your only
    Internet option. That way, you can take advantage of all
    the great food that your garden or animals may have to offer.

  • Tabitha Stringer says:

    We are currently considering the needs of business customers and how we can meet them. A working group has been established. If you are interested in finding out more please email DPS@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

  • Linda Muir says:

    Are there any plans to include business customers of public services in myaccount?

  • Martin Brown says:

    Another milestone was reached in the evolution of new myaccount service with inaugural meeting of the myaccount Users’ Forum taking place on 13 August.

    As well as by providing a platform for service providers to review service performance and share the experiences of using the myaccount service, the Users’ Forum will help shape future service developments plus the product roadmap.

    Actively reaching out to elicit and capture feedback from members of the public using the myaccount service – not simply service providers – will form an important dimension to the Users’ Forum’s role. Enquiries about the Users’ Forum, contact Tom McHugh: tom.mchugh@improvementservice.org.uk

  • Jim Gordon says:

    Just registered and upgraded to level 1 Assurance on City of Edinburgh Council website in less than 2 minutes. The way to go for a good user experience.

  • Martin Brown says:

    There’s lots going on in Scotland today and not just the opening of the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    A small but nevertheless significant milestone has been reached: 10,000 members of the public living or working in Scotland have now set up a myaccount.

    myaccount provides a secure and easy way for members of the public to access public services online, including by using just one username and password, if they choose.

    This milestone has been reached after the new myaccount service’s soft launch in April 2014. The soft launch coincided with the Scottish Government announcing its policy position for sign-in to online services, with myaccount ‘the national approach’ to secure and easy access to public services online in Scotland.

    More information on the approach can be found in the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland blog, where readers can post comments and pose questions.

    As well as leading to the first 10,000 registered myaccount subscribers, the soft launch has helped bed in the new service, preparing the groundwork for a larger promotional effort over the coming months. All things being equal, we expect targets set for myaccount subscriber numbers to be reached and broken, supporting more people to access securely a growing range of online public services.

    http://www.improvementservice.org.uk
    signin.mygovscot.org
    #myaccountscot

    Operated by The Improvement Service
    Scottish Government funded

  • Keith Percival says:

    Creating an account was very simple – using my NEC number it pulled down my details.
    What do Councils have to do to start using myaccount to access their services? and when will I be able to offer myaccount services to the 63,000 local NEC card users in D&G?
    Great start, well done to everyone concerned.

    • Ruth Winkler says:

      Thanks for your comment, I am glad you found it quick and easy to set up a myaccount. There is no cost to the council to use myaccount. To start offering online services that make use of the myaccount service your council should engage with the Improvement Service. The Improvement Service will jointly analyse what integration work needs to be done to make this possible. The refreshed myaccount system uses open standards to reduce the complexity of integration and better future proof any work you undertake. Please email dps@scotland.gsi.gov.uk and we can put you in touch with the Improvement Service.

      Once the integration is complete residents in your area will be able to start using myaccount to access your online services. You do not already have to have an NEC card to create a myaccount. Anyone can create a myaccount, so in addition to your 63,000 local NEC card users non NEC card owners will also be able to create a myaccount, enabling them to access your online services.

  • Great to see the myaccount service being developed to support more public services to be delivered online. Particularly looking forward to seeing the future plans implemented in supporting people to apply for and update their National Entitlement Card online.

  • Ronnie Brown says:

    I’m glad to see this get underway, and it looks like a promising start.

    My focus is always on the user experience of any site or product; can I ask what plans there are by way of quantitative or qualitative user testing?

    As far as this “soft launch” is concerned, are you looking for any user feedback, particularly on the on-boarding process?

    • Ruth Winkler says:

      Thanks for your comment, user experience is fundamental to the success of myaccount. During the development of myaccount we undertook both usability and accessibility testing with a range of users. We are also currently working closely with City of Edinburgh Council and the NHS programme – My Diabetes My Way to capture feedback from their users who will shortly start using myaccount to access their online services.

      We are continually looking at how we can improve user experience and we would welcome feedback from users to help us improve the service. Feedback can either be provided by email to dps@scotland.gsi.gov.uk or via the myaccount website https://signin.mygovscot.org/

  • ann mcgowan says:

    When will we be able to use this process for online voting in local and national elections?

    • Ruth Winkler says:

      There are no plans at present to use myaccount for online voting. Public sector organisations are working towards making more services available online, which you will be able to use your myaccount to access.

      At present, however, the Scottish Government is conducting a consultation on improvements to our electoral system and as part of the consultation we are seeking views on the potential for introducing new voting methods in local government and Scottish Parliament elections. I attach a link to the relevant page on the Scottish Government website. Should you wish to respond to the ‘Scotland’s Electoral Future’ consultation, the closing date is 11 July 2014. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Consultations/Current

  • Great news. Looking forward to allowing Edinburgh citizens to access City of Edinburgh Council services with myaccount later this month.

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