New Zealand Privacy Commissioner suggests biometric app over date of birth for voter authentication

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections

New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner has panned a plan to use date of birth as a way of authenticating online voters, saying it could undermine trust in the electoral system, New Zealand Reseller News reports.

Commissioner John Edwards said in a submission to parliament responding to the Local Electoral Matters Bill that while he supports the intention behind the plan, suggesting it could undermine voter confidence and adoption of the new system.

“As date of birth will provide little additional assurance of identity, I do not consider that there is sufficient justification for local authorities to collect it from the Electoral Commission,” he writes. “Further, given its inherent security issues I do not think it is appropriate for use in something as important as an election.”

He noted that not only is date of birth not secure, particularly given the common public sharing of the biographical detail on social media sites, but also it cannot be changed if it is compromised. The Electoral Commission shared similar concerns.

Edwards noted that an obvious online identification option with much stronger authentication already exists. “Government supported standards of authentication already exist, such as the RealMe system maintained by the Department of Internal Affairs,” he points out.

RealMe is secured with Daon’s facial biometrics platform IdentityX.

Wellington City Youth Council echoed Edwards. “We note that many critical and confidential functions already occur online within a secure framework: successive Governments have been at the forefront of this process, encouraging citizens to register for RealMe logins so that they can securely access various government services, while online IRD logins are a separate yet equally secure attempt at digitizing confidential access,” the group wrote in a submission.

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