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Trusted digital ID can drive inclusion, resilience in Australia: ConnectID CEO

Trusted digital ID can drive inclusion, resilience in Australia: ConnectID CEO

The managing director of ConnectID, Andrew Black, posits that a trusted and interoperable digital identity ecosystem holds immense importance for Australia as it gives consumers the freedom to securely choose how they verify their identity.

Black made these remarks in a recent interview with Biometric Update in which he also discussed identity data security and privacy, and the integration of government-led digital IDs into the broader private sector for effective and seamless service delivery.

ConnectID is run by AP+ (Australian Payments Plus), a group which includes eftpos. It is an interoperable platform that ensures seamless and secure digital identity verification and the exchange of identity credentials by Australians without storing any user data.

Australia is at full throttle with its digital transformation agenda, which includes the establishment of a Trusted Digital Identities Framework (TDIF), which the federal and state governments believe, will enable quick and secure access to public and private sector services.

In a vast country like Australia with a significant remote and regional population, efficiency and inclusivity of digital services is paramount. The implementation of secure remote authentication capability is a necessity and will assist all Australians to access services effortlessly, wherever they may live,” says Black.

“A trusted Australian digital identity ecosystem will elevate data minimization and promote cyber resilience. It will also promote inclusion and productivity. As Australians adopt digital authentication, this will foster a more resilient data economy and allow consumers to confidently access the services they want and need while also protecting their identity.”

Data minimization is paramount

In working to put in place such a digital ID system, Black says data minimization is crucial, especial at a time when a number of large-scale data breaches involving Australians have been reported.

Data minimization means that only the amount of data that is absolutely needed is shared or accessed, and with explicit consent of the data subject, with no unnecessary personal information provided.

“It’s crucial that data privacy and data minimization remain a priority. Principles such as reducing the data collected, avoiding new data honeypots, obtaining user consent, and robust privacy and security settings are key,” he says.

“By addressing each consideration, Australia can establish a digital identity ecosystem that not only enhances user experience and security but also ensures the protection of individuals’ personal information and privacy,” the ConnectID CEO adds

Further highlighting the importance of data protection, Black states: “In this ever-evolving digital landscape, it is important that all innovators in technology continue to prioritise the security and privacy of their customers. While TDIF sets high standards for security and privacy, complementarity trust networks like ConnectID go even further in some key areas. Privacy and security are at the forefront for us.”

Consumer at heart of ConnectID design

Data minimization, Black notes, is at the core of ConnectID. The company’s goal over the years, he says, has been to combine the highest standards of privacy and security while ensuring the product is simple to use.

“I think we have achieved that because with just a few clicks, ConnectID can be used to verify a person’s identity securely,” Black posits.

He emphasizes that ConnectID never stores any personal information. “It is simply a secure bridge a consumer uses to verify their information from one place to another. ConnectID accesses existing trusted sources of customer data, such as their bank, so there are no new repositories created. ConnectID also seamlessly integrates into existing online experiences, so a customer doesn’t even need to download or sign up for another application.”

This model is also beneficial for businesses as it simplifies the onboarding process, providing a method for secure authentication and authorizations and reducing the need for a business to store excessive personal data, he explains.

“ConnectID also means the data received is from a trusted source, ensuring greater data integrity. And finally, they’re still able to meet their regulatory and compliance obligations,” he states.

He observes that while efforts to ensure data protection in Australia’s digital ID system appear appreciable, it is possible that much more can be done, especially as technology keeps evolving and cyber threats persist.

“It’s crucial to take a proactive and ongoing stance in safeguarding the identity of everyone in Australia. The fact that identity verification is needed for many aspects of our day-to-day lives highlights how crucial it is, especially when considering the pressing cybersecurity risks.”

Government-led ID and the broader private sector

While Black underscores the fact that government-led digital identity is crucial in unlocking Australia’s huge economic potential, he believes fully integrating it with private sector solutions like ConnectID is a good recipe for consumer choice variety.

ConnectID was the first non-government operator accredited by the Australian government to deliver digital identity exchange services in the country.

“For digital identities to be successful, Australia needs solutions that can be used across the economy. Identity solutions making an impact across our daily lives, alongside security and privacy, will demonstrate the potential benefits of the ecosystem,” Black says, adding that such “whole of economy accreditation framework for digital identity services will form the foundation for trust, so private companies can drive innovation.”

“That is why collaboration between the public and private sectors is important to establish a digital ID ecosystem aligned with Australia’s digital economy vision,” he recommends.

Australia’s digital ID progress, challenges, lessons

To Black, there has been great progress in the implementation of Australia’s digital ID ecosystem amidst a panoply of challenges.

The increasing discussions amongst governments and the private sector alike allow everyone to be able to share a common vision of the benefits and what a future with digital identity could look like, he contends.

“The Federal and State governments have been actively working to establish a framework to enhance access to services, bolster security and offer greater convenience to enable growth of the digital economy.”

“This includes initiatives like updating the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF), which accredits domestic digital identity services, ensuring all identity providers meet strict privacy rules and security standards,” Black adds.

While Australia’s digital identity journey seems to be on a positive trajectory, there is however lessons which the country can learn from other models, in the view of the ConnectID CEO.

He thus proposes: “Australia has the advantage that we can learn from successful overseas models like Canada, Norway and Sweden. The cross-border exchange of insights creates an open and collaborative opportunity for countries to develop their own secure, user-centric digital identity systems.”

“In Australia, digital driver licenses have been successfully rolled out across a number of states which has proven to be a great way to initiate the adoption of digital forms of identity.”

Citing the EU example, the ConnectID CEO notes: “One example could be Europe’s digital identity scheme with the introduction of their EU digital wallet, alongside their Electronic Identification and Trust Service (eIDAS) Regulation.”

“This solution enhances privacy, minimizes data collection and offers convenience, security and speed to their citizens, something we aim for here in Australia.”

This post was updated at 11:02am Eastern on September 8, 2023 to clarify Andrew Black’s title and the ownership of ConnectID.

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