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Māori say New Zealand govt ignoring them on digital ID work

Māori say New Zealand govt ignoring them on digital ID work

One of the fundamental rules of face biometrics is to be inclusive, but that advice allegedly was ignored in New Zealand’s One Time Identity authentication program.

According to Radio New Zealand, some Māori data specialists say they are not aware of any Māori peers who have worked on expanding the three-year-old digital ID program beyond the Department of Internal Affairs.

The government wants to open One Time Identity, more often referred to as Identity Check, to the Ministry of Social Development.

Identity Check is said to be part of that nation’s planned digital ID system. One of its goals is to give people more control over their biometric and other data.

Some in the Māori community point to a 2020 privacy impact statement for extending the program to Social Development. The report said the ministry sought selfies from would-be users, but no Māori names were listed for inclusion.

Given the prevalence of concerns about bias in face biometrics, such an oversight was bound to spark criticism.

Social Development has said Internal Affairs created the list in question. It goes deeper in the weeds from there, but, according to Radio New Zealand, officials in Social Development said they will reach further into the community.

Māori reportedly were brought in to consult on a concurrent piece of legislation that would create digital ID accreditation for organizations that meet as-yet-unwritten criteria.

But representatives of the community say Māori voices were sought after much of the decisions were made.

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