Press releases

TSI joins IMRG in call for Government to create a new Digital Passport

The introduction of an ID system that would revolutionise online shopping and give Royal Mail a new lease of life received widespread support at Trading Standards Institute’s Conference in Edinburgh.

The scheme would see every citizen with a trusted and secure web address that would enable a reliable identity  and age verification system while shopping online.

In the wake of the new Government’s decision to scrap the ID card scheme,  this Dot.Post alternative could see UK consumers use their post offices where, on presentation of valid identification, such as a passport, they could set up their own digital ID solution to use in their ever expanding virtual lives.  Consumers  - and organisations – would be able to certify their ID, status, age, address, etc for use in all their future online transactions.

The Digital Passport is a new scheme set up by the United Nations organisation Universal Postal Union that is ready to be donated to post offices worldwide. 

Coupled with a trust scheme, such as IMRG’s ISIS, which regulates traders’ operating procedures there would be immediate benefits from a safe online shopping market to consumers and legitimate businesses alike.

IMRG’s chief executive James Roper said: 'Distance trading relies on trust which is broadly missing online, especially in cross-border situations.  Political willpower can fix the online trust problem, as the necessary technical means and operational structures are already available.

'We estimate that adopting this e-Britain plan could generate an additional 6 million jobs by 2020, and generate benefits worth £50billion - £100billion per annum to the UK economy from new trade, and service and licence fees.

'Royal Mail's traditional letter business is becoming irrelevant as the world switches to email – this would mean a new, modern lease of life for it but the Government needs to adopt the scheme first.'

TSI’s chief executive Ron Gainsford said: 'This is a very interesting idea that could crack a number of problems that are currently miring the online world; we know that too high a percentage of consumers do not trust online shopping.  This needs to change. 

'Alongside increasing internet enforcement work carried out by trading standards and others, a Digital Passport could be a significant help in tackling the fraudsters who are now using the virtual world as their new playground.

'Any action that we can put in place to protect the public must be worth considering.'

Notes for Editors:

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815 or by e-mail on

17 June 2010

ISIS – Internet Shopping is Safe – trust scheme was introduced in 2000, based on the IMRG code of practice for e-Retail from 1997.
More than 1,000 ISIS-accredited retailers now account for about two thirds of all UK online shopping.
It certifies that the retailers have:

  • Registered with the ISIS programme and undertaken to trade in a manner that is legal, decent, honest, truthful and fair
  • Had its website and service reviewed and monitored by IMRG
  • Had its business, VAT and data protection registrations checked by IMRG

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)

TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.