Australia myGovID biometrics pilot ends, state considers offering digital version of photo card

biometric facial recognition

Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has completed its myGov digital integration pilot, as enrolled identities have nearly reached 1.3 million, writes iTnews.

Throughout the month-long pilot, only a small number of Australians used myGov to authenticate themselves instead of the original two-factor system. It ran between April 30 and May 24, and “was available to test for 149 participants” who opted in, a spokesperson told iTnews.

The government wants to turn myGovID into the main identity credential for access across online services and for real-time verification of passports, driver’s licenses and Medicare cards. Future plans include adding biometric facial recognition for citizens to access services that ask for proof-of-life. The biometric component of its digital ID was to be released for public testing in the first half of 2020.

Since last year, the DTA has been struggling to boost interest in the biometric digital identity platform. Despite an investment of AU$67 million (nearly US$46 million), Australians were still not very familiar with the project. Since it started, some $200 million have been spent on myGov in total.

“The DTA and Services Australia are currently considering the insights from the pilot,” according to the spokesperson. “This will inform the next steps before a fully public integrated system is released.”

The Australian government has accredited the Taxation Office’s myGovID and Australia Post’s digital ID service. Now, Eftpos is promoting its digital identity solution for use to access government services, has announced a trial phase and finalizing a proof of concept with 17 Australian businesses.

Since myGov replaced the previous PKI-based AUSkey authentication solution, nearly 1.3 million identities have been created. The DTA is looking into replacing myGov’s authentication with myGovID.

ATO and DTA have been working with Idemia since 2018 to test liveness detection software. A decision has not been made on which software would be used for comparison of a selfie to a passport photo.

According to a government brief published last week, the DTA is considering a national digital identity framework used by both the government and the private sector.

“Non-Commonwealth use of the Digital Identity platform will need to be funded through a charging arrangement,” reads the brief. “The next part of this process involves the development by 30 June 2020 of a charging framework discussion paper to support consultation with Commonwealth stakeholders.”

NSW looking into replacing physical photo cards with digital IDs

This year, the NSW government wants to introduce a digital alternative for physical photo cards, Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said on social media, according to iTnews.

“I will digitize the NSW Photo Card this year – I will keep you posted,” Dominello wrote on LinkedIn.

In November 2019, Digital Driver’s Licenses (DDLs) became generally available on smartphones for drivers in New South Wales.

Over 1.4 million motorists are already part of the state’s digital license network and there are currently some 1.6 million physical card holders.

The digital license includes holograms for privacy protection and liveness. Digital photo cards were implemented for boat driver and recreation fishing licenses three years ago. They share the same security and identification methods as driver’s licenses. Other digital cards available are for work that involves children, alcohol and gambling.

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