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Australia’s digital ID should give power over data to users: Govt advisor

Australia’s digital ID should give power over data to users: Govt advisor

Australia’s upcoming digital identity system should allow its users to decide what sort of data they wish to share, says former New South Wales minister Victor Dominello.

Dominello was recently named as the chair of a new advisory body focused on its national digital identity system, the federal Ministerial Digital ID Expert Panel. Known for his role in steering the NSW Digital ID project, Dominello will be tasked with providing advice on building the Australian digital ID, according to trade publication InnovationAus.

The “trinity of trust” is about “the who, the what and the why”, Dominello said at a recent online summit organized by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

The chair of the new advisory body likened giving access to data to digital ID platforms to giving blood to a blood bank. The donation is voluntary and in return, the individual gets information about their blood type and health as well as a feeling of giving back to the community. Sharing data could be the same.

“If you empower the individual with that choice, then they can determine what gets shared, by whom, with whom for how long,” he says, adding that in return, the individual could get insights back on how I can improve their life options: “Fundamentally, in terms of design, individuals, as far as humanly possible must have control.”

Australia’s digital ID project is currently in its eighth year of development with more than AUD$600 million (US$380 million) spent.

After years of delays and reorganizations, the system is expected to finally move forward after the government presented draft legislation and opened consultations on the system in September. Recent figures show, however, that long-term funding for the project may be in doubt while experts have been expressing concern over security and privacy issues.

Dominello argues that the ID will improve three aspects. These include cybersecurity, which will be improved by lowering crime rates using verified IDs, increasing privacy by allowing control of personal information as well as significantly improving service delivery for the individual.

“Every government around the world is designed in silos: There’s always going to be a Department of Defence, a Department of Education, a Department of Health,” he says. ”Once you get a digital ID, then all of a sudden, the individual becomes the hub and the silos become the spokes. That will fundamentally shift service delivery and the highest return will be for those that are most vulnerable.”

The former minister, however, has expressed doubts about the current “trust architecture” in Australia, suggesting more regulation and power for individuals may be needed going forward, according to InnovationAus.

At the Ministerial Digital ID Expert Panel, Dominello will work alongside officials such as former Australian Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton, First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group chair Dot West and former head of Australia Post Digital ID Margo Stephen.

Until March 2023, the former minister headed multiple departments under the New South Wales government, most recently as Minister for Digital and Minister for Customer Service. He is currently serving as a part-time professor University of New South Wales (UNSW) where he is leading the Trustworthy Digital Society Hub, a project aimed at advancing digital services.

Dominello is also the founder of trusted services consulting company ServiceGen.

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