UK and Australian governments renew investments in digital identity services

Digidentity and Post Office in the UK, Accenture in Australia

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) in the UK has invested more than £5 million (roughly $7.06 million) in Digidentity and Post Office for the firms to continue offer user verification for the Verify platform until April 2022.

According to Public Technology, the new contracts will both extend the ‘issuance periods during which the provider will continue to create new digital identities to the required level of assurance, and increase ‘the prices payable for the first assurance of a new user’s identity’.

For context, the UK government is currently working on a new digital identity verification service and was originally planning to replace Verify in the first half of 2021.

However, the rapid surge of universal credit enrollment requests during the pandemic caused Verify retirement to be postponed, with the UK government now allowing new signups until April 2022.

Digidentity and Post Office are the only two commercial partners left in the Verify roster, after Barclays, Experian, SecureIdentity, CitizenSafe, and Royal Mail ceased their affiliation with the program.

This was due partially to the persistent technical issues that plagued the platform since its establishment, but also the uncertainty of the platform’s future funding starting in 2018.

Australia invests $2.5M in Accenture’s digital ID verification service

The Australian government will invest an additional $2.5 million in Accenture for the firm to improve its digital identity service.

The news was reported by Innovation Aus and comes after the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) awarded Accenture a $12 million contract earlier this year.

The value of the six-month agreement was later increased by an additional $2 million, bringing its overall value to over $14 million.

As part of the new collaboration, Accenture is working on improvements related to Australia’s digital identity service myGovID, as well as tech support for the migration of applications to the cloud and transition to the new system.

This is not the first time Accenture collaborates with the Australian government. In 2020 alone, the company was paid a total of $358.4 million.

More recently, Accenture partnered with Onfido to bring new identity governance and onboarding tools to the ForgeRock platform.

New biometrics controls outlined in position paper

The Australian government has published a position paper outlining the digital identity legislation it intends to introduce in Parliament later this year, and explaining the changes it has made, including new protections for biometric data.

The Digital Transformation Agency is consulting both with the public and with private sector digital identity providers on the new legislation as it works towards the establishment of a sustainable digital ID ecosystem.

The position paper says the Oversight Authority being created will be given more power to make new rules about user profiling and biometric data storage. Safeguards on biometric data introduced in the new legislation include a stipulation that only 1:1 matching be used, a prohibition against third-party data sharing, the provision of more information about what biometric data will be used and for how long, and rules for testing biometric accuracy.

The legislation will also set 15 years as the minimum age for digital ID use.

The consultation closes July 15.

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