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NSW advances digital ID accessibility, while Australian govt changes horses midstream

NSW advances digital ID accessibility, while Australian govt changes horses midstream

While the federal government works to develop Australia’s national identity program, New South Wales (NSW) is moving swiftly ahead in its regional digital ID program. NSW is using the latest digital ID technologies to foster inclusivity, safety, and fairness in its services. By offering a secure and dependable means for all citizens to verify their identities, the program aims to enhance accessibility and equity.

It accomplishes this by facilitating online and in-person transactions, as well as granting convenient access to government services, according to a government announcement. The program also focuses on privacy and trust, adhering to global standards through trusted technology and a robust legislative framework.

Andrew Garner, the government digital and technology lead for EY Oceania, said, “Australia’s digital identity initiative presents a unique opportunity to shape a more inclusive Australia.” He believes the program can deliver “improved service delivery for all citizens, not just the majority.”

According to a recent article in Global Government Forum, only 11 countries worldwide have large-scale digital identity programs in place. However, the NSW government has successfully launched several pilots, making it a leader in Australia’s government digital ID space.

Customers can access the NSW Digital ID and NSW Digital Wallet through the Service NSW app, ensuring a secure and private digital identity solution.

One pilot program, the NSW Digital ID Proof of Age, aims to make the documentation process convenient while safeguarding personal information.

To ensure that people’s credentials are safe and only shared with their consent, the NSW Government is partnering with Mattr to deliver a verifiable credentials platform to build its digital wallet. This platform enables third parties to independently verify digital credentials. The digital wallet is aligned with W3C standards, making service interactions easier.

The NSW Government has also partnered with BRYKGroup to use the biometric face verification from FaceTec, which includes liveness detection and 3D video selfie analysis. This technology has been adopted by governments worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The NSW Digital ID program is a significant step towards a more equitable, inclusive, and accessible government. By providing a safe and secure way to prove one’s identity, the program aims to streamline digital processes and reduce barriers faced by its citizens. With a focus on privacy, trust, and adherence to global standards, the NSW Digital ID and Digital Wallet offer a convenient and private solution for individuals across NSW.

The NSW Government says it is prioritizing security and leveraging trusted technology to improve service delivery and empower all citizens to access government support and services.

More restructuring for Australia’s national digital identity program

The Australian government’s digital identity program, with over AU$600 million spent so far, is now under the control of the Department of Finance, InnovationAus.com reports. The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has relinquished its policy duties to the program, which it was tasked with by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2015. The government has allocated $26.9 million for the finance department and the DTA to maintain the digital ID system and design policy and legislative foundations.

Two years ago, the DTA handed over its digital identity policy responsibilities to myGovID operators, the Australian Taxation Office, and Services Australia. This move was made to support the legislative and regulatory foundations for a phased rollout across the economy, and it took effect on July 1, 2023.

The recent additional reduction in the DTA’s responsibilities comes just weeks after the Department of Home Affairs took over the troubled Hosting Certification Framework, the now-decommissioned Cyber Hubs project and the Hardening Government IT initiative.

The DTA now primarily provides advice to support the government’s digital agenda. The agency’s departmental appropriation will drop from $71.7 million in 2022-23 to $62 million this financial year, marking the third consecutive cut since the 2021-22 Budget.

The digital identity program, which aims to eliminate the need for individuals to complete separate log-on processes for each government service, has faced numerous delays. The government is redrafting legislation to expand the program to include the private sector and state and territory governments. The new legislation will also ensure privacy and consumer protections and create permanent governance arrangements and a regulatory regime.

Shadow Minister for Government Services, Paul Fletcher, has expressed concern about the program’s multiple reorganizations and delays. In a statement published on Liberal New South Wales’ website, he says, “Digital ID has the potential to be a game changer for citizens and industry by saving time and making it easier to complete various transactions. Further delays only serve to undermine confidence in the Government’s technology and innovation agenda.”

The current government took over from Fletcher’s Liberal party last year.

Future government plans include a newly-approved National Strategy for Identity Resilience, making biometrically anchored digital identity credentials that work across state boundaries the norm in Australia. The government is also consulting on associated reforms to statutory declarations and deeds to allow Australians to use a digital identity to witness documents online without needing to visit a Justice of the Peace.

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