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Government digital ID programs launched in UK, coming to New Zealand and worth waiting for in Australia

Government digital ID programs launched in UK, coming to New Zealand and worth waiting for in Australia

A new stand-alone version of a Document Checking Service is being piloted by the UK’s Government Digital Service to verify user identity and provide faster access to important government services

The service can be used to verify the identity of people filing online mortgage applications, accessing financial services or onboarding to recruitment services. The pilot will run for a year, and assess the market for such a service, while helping organizations reduce fraud.

“The DCS pilot provides an opportunity to establish how the Government and private sector might work together for the convenience of the citizens we serve,” says Cabinet Office Minister Julia Lopez. “It will help us learn how we can help citizens and businesses access online services by verifying a person’s identity more safely and easily, unlocking the huge potential of technology to improve our everyday lives.”

The Document Checking Service is already available to Gov.uk Verify identity providers. Individuals must consent to identity verification, and organizations do not gain access to government-held data, according to the government announcement.

The GDS is expected to select up to eleven organizations from a range of sectors to participate in the pilot.

An annual assessment from the Cabinet Office suggests that Gov.uk Verify continues “to pose notable risks to the department due to challenges in delivery,” as the GDS works to produce “a refreshed commercial framework,” Computer Weekly reports.

The ‘Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20’ document notes that GDS put “unprecedented measures” in place to deal with the surge in use of Gov.uk Verify during the pandemic, which included a record 132-million page-views in a week.

New digital services recently established by the government include the National Shielding Service, which enabled more than 285,000 people considered vulnerable to be supplied with essential food. A COVID-19 response business volunteering service has been used 20,000 times.

GDS programs cost £5 million (US$6.5 million) less than budgeted in 2019-2020, and £2 million in unexpected income was generated.

New Zealand to establish Trust Framework for digital identity accreditation

New Zealand’s Cabinet has confirmed that legislation for a Digital Identity Trust Framework will be drafted, and an Interim Trust Framework stood up in the meantime by the Department of Internal Affairs to allow testing with digital identity providers.

The legislation is scheduled for introduction to New Zealand’s parliament in 2021. Once it is passed, digital identity companies can be legally accredited to the Trust Framework, which will be based on existing and developing standards. Accreditation provides businesses and individuals with confidence in the appropriate handling of identity information, according to the government announcement.

The Trust Framework is intended to support secure, privacy-enhancing and interoperable approaches to digital identity services. A range of approaches will be tested with the public and private sectors through pilot programs.

ForgeRock expert says delay is okay for Australian digital ID

Australia’s decision to delay the pubic launch of myGovID will give the government a chance to make sure it takes full advantage of a rare opportunity to streamline access to government services and drive long term support from the public, ForgeRock Director of Solution Architecture Adam Biviano writes for Government News.

The Digital Transformation Agency completed a digital integration pilot at the end of May, which it said will inform the next steps prior to a full public release.

The myGovID platform is intended to store digital credentials based on verified documents for use with a range of online services.

Biviano argues that “Australians are increasingly inundated with new online services and offerings, and the government has a very real opportunity to show how platforms like myGovID can make their lives easier by replacing login clutter with a secure central login platform.” A measured and transparent process by the DTA can help assure citizens that the storage and access of their sensitive personal data is trustworthy, he says.

Sophisticated cyberattacks against Australian organizations have recently been discussed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and the government has invested AU$1.35 billion (US$966 million) in cybersecurity, Biviano notes. Centralizing citizen digital identity data means that there are not troves of personal information requiring protection all over government networks, Biviano suggests, but the development of platforms like myGovID will have to be deliberate, and carefully communicated to the public, to fend off the twin worries of cybersecurity and low public participation.

The Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC) released a roadmap for the modernization of the country’s data sharing systems last year, and Biviano urges the government to pair secure platforms with public education to ensure the government’s work results in a widely-adopted improvement of online identity services for Australians.

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