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Australia renews efforts to extend digital identity use to private sector

But minister says access should be denied to law enforcement

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The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is working on a new bill to extend its myGovID digital identity service use to the private sector, ZDNet reports.

The idea was first announced last November when DTA said it intended to provide identity verification alternatives to the myGovID developed by the Australian Taxation Office or the Australia Post Digital ID.

Now, Australia’s minister in charge of digital transformation, Stuart Robert, confirmed he is working on a trusted digital identity framework on behalf of the government.

“We’ll have another Act through the Parliament, this year, all going well, that allows other digital identities to be created,” he explained.

According to the minister, a number of private companies are already interested in the scheme, including DigiID from Australia Post, Eftpos, and PharmacyID.

In Australia, the operating model and rules for the operation of digital identity systems provided by the federal government are established by the Trusted Digital Identity Framework.

If passed, the new legislation will now extend the Trusted Digital Identity Framework to state and territory governments and the private sector.

However, privacy concerns have been slowing down the adoption of the legislation by preventing the sharing of data, including biometrics, for fear that law enforcement could have access to it.

“For example, I can’t use Medicare data to assist you with a simple inquiry,” Robert explained. “I can’t use disability data for a disability support payment to help you get on the NDIS.”

These issues will be tackled in the upcoming bill, by explicitly allowing the use of data only for service delivery.

“We will bring a Bill to the Parliament that will allow the use of data about a citizen to be used only for service delivery and I’ll specifically deny the use for law enforcement or compliance,” Robert said.

“That way if you tell us once you won’t have to fill in multiple forms, because we’ll have your data once.”

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