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Optus hack spurs interest in digital identity within Australian government, banks

Optus hack spurs interest in digital identity within Australian government, banks

Demand for digital ID in Australia appears to have been boosted by the recent data breach from Optus, which resulted in 1.2 million telecom customers with at least one current, valid piece of identification or personal information stolen, according to NCA Newswire.

The company said in a statement that customers it has contacted should take action to change their identity documents. Beyond those, information from 900,000 expired identification documents was also breached, from a total of 9.8 million customers affected by the hack.

The Australian Financial Review reports that while Federal Finance Minister Katy Gallagher is convening digital ministers to work on a national digital identity system, NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is promoting decentralized identity and SSI at the state level.

“Moving to a system of self sovereign digital identity would make the concept of 100 points of ID entirely redundant,” Dominello told the Financial Review, referring to Australia’s legacy identification system. “It also retires the need for organisations to hold on to people’s paper-based ID documents, and associated information, in their databases for years and years.”

Digital identity legislation will be among the topics discussed at a Data and Digital Ministers Meeting in November, Gallagher says.

The Australian National Bank is on board with the need for trusted digital identity, and further says that banks are the institutions set up to provide the requisite degree of trust, Mortgage Business reports. Being heavily regulated makes them trustworthy, even if they are not always liked, writes Andrew Cornell, managing editor of the ANZ’s new platform BlueNotes.

The Australian Banking Association says the country’s financial institutions are ready to assist with securing the digital environment.

Australian National University Researcher Dr. Vanessa Teague tells AFR that since the Australia Card was rejected in the 1980s, the country has adopted the very linked databases that people were concerned about, without the benefits of digital ID.

Teague suggested that while something like the digital ID proposed by the government is needed, it has not been implemented well so far.

“The Digital Transformation Agency has had the job of setting up a secure digital ID for a long time, but they have not yet delivered a secure system that works,” she said.

Australia has been working on the Trusted Digital Identity Framework since 2015, and one of the few solutions accredited under the TDIF, eftpos’ ConnectID, was recently endorsed by the country’s ‘big four’ banks, which include ANZ.

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