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Australia’s Digital ID Bill introduced with AU$145.5M earmark

Australia’s Digital ID Bill introduced with AU$145.5M earmark

Australia’s federal government has introduced the Digital ID Bill in the Senate to formally establish and provide a framework for the country’s digital ID system. It has also proposed a $145.5 million (roughly US$97 million) investment to implement and oversee the system.

The investment would take place over 4 years starting from 2023-24. It would include a $67 million (US$45 million) investment over the span of 2.5 years for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to serve in an interim regulatory role, per the digital ID legislation, starting July 1st, 2024.

Another $56 million (US$37 million) would be invested into the Attorney-General’s Department over the course of 4 years to support identity matching services. These services include a federal government-run face biometrics portal. A further $3.3 million (US$2.2 million) would support the credential protection register to support future cybersecurity efforts and protect against identity-related crimes.

The recent investment brings the total monetary investment into digital IDs in Australia to $780 million (US$519 million) over the past decade.

Other funding priorities include updates to myGovID, communications to improve individual and business awareness on digital ID, and supporting government departments and offices for oversight of the systems privacy, functionality, and scope for data regulations.

The bill will also support an accreditation scheme for digital ID service providers to support the expansion of the national system into states and territories before eventually reaching the private sector and evolving into an economy-wide system.

New powers would be given to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Privacy Commissioner as regulating authorities. An additional bill has been introduced to make amendments to solidify those powers.

Before the bill was even formally introduced, critics like One Nation’s Senator Malcolm Roberts said in the Senate that the bill will “facilitate making a digital identity check mandatory” and “tie every Australian to a digital identity that unlocks services necessary for life.”

“Everything that Senator Roberts just said is incorrect and is not part of the bill. It is not mandatory; it is actually putting in place legislation that regulates the existing system,” responded Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, who introduced the bill.

The reporting date for the bill is set to February 28th, despite the Coalition and One Nation’s attempt to extend the reporting to May, according to InnovationAus.

The announcement of the bills and investment follows as the ACCC issued a limited tender to build the digital ID system’s platform, inviting only 5 to 10 vendors to submit a quote, with no indication that any local vendors were among those considered.

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