New Zealand Parliament passes Electronic Identity Verification Bill, secure online identity program set to launch in 2013

Legislation passed in New Zealand Parliament earlier this month puts a new national online identity service into motion which will enable those enrolled to more easily interact with public and private sector organizations.

The program, named RealMe was announced at the 2012 Identity Conference in Wellington by the Department of Internal Affairs and the New Zealand Post, who have partnered to see this program to fruition. The Bill passed earlier this month, the Electronic Identity Verification Bill has made the implementation of the RealMe program possible, particularly in enabling private sector cooperation.

RealMe is a single logon that is intended to replace the paperwork-heavy process of proving your identity when applying for government services or programs and now, with private sector organizations as well. Users of the program only need to show up in person once every five years to set up or maintain their RealMe account. Setting up an account entails heading to a post office, having your photo taken and verifying your identity in person.

The program, set to launch in 2013, shows that the roadmap for RealMe includes additional mechanisms for multi-factor authentication, full mobile support and support for voice biometrics.

New Zealand Post RealMe spokesperson Mandy Smith says the RealMe service delivers a high degree of certainty that a person is who they say they are when they contact a participating company electronically.

“Currently, the most an organization usually knows about its online contacts is that they have a valid username and password; you still can’t be sure that they are who they claim to be,” Smith said.

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