Australian government steps up digital ID efforts with new funding, age verification trials
Australia’s federal government has already begun trials of age verification for the purchase of alcohol by using digital identity, while at the state level, New South Wales is investing in the development of a digital wallet for ID and government service access.
Age verification trialed in Australia for alcohol purchases
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has been performing digital identity age verification trials for online alcohol purchases, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by an independent citizen and answered by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in October.
The document described trials active since September with selected online retailers in Australia. The trials are using external digital ID providers Australia Post and Mastercard.
The pilot projects had been expected to run for between three and six months, counting 100 users per use case.
Further, the FOI request revealed the government is planning to use the trials to shape online age verification policy, as well as tracing its impact on revenue, customer adoption, and experience.
Additional trials are scheduled for 2022 and include more users, myGovID as an identity provider, as well as other Australia-based online alcohol and gambling service providers, and R18+ online video games with “loot boxes.”
The government has been considering the use of biometrics for online age verification since at least 2019.
NSW to develop digital identity wallet for sharing decentralized credentials
The new infrastructure will be financed as part of the state government’s $2.1 billion ($1.5 billion) digital restart fund and will enable the creation of an app to enable citizens to prove their identity and share decentralized credentials, both in the public and private sectors.
According to iTnews, budget documents released last week suggest the digital wallet and digital identity hub within the Service NSW app will also include a commercial credential exchange service. It is expected to use biometrics such as face recognition to authenticate users.
As for the rest of the digital restart fund budget, $40 million ($28.5 million) will be invested in the NSW spatial digital twin platform (which will create a 4D model of the state) $98.7 million ($70.3 million) in cyber security initiatives, and $10.5 million ($7.5 million) to fund three projects, including one called Asset AI.
At the time of writing, NSW has not yet revealed plans for the remaining funds.