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Australia outlines new budget for digital ID scheme

Northern Territory allocates funding for digital driver licenses
Australia outlines new budget for digital ID scheme

Australia’s federal government has earmarked AU$288.1 million (US$190.9 million) for the national digital identity program which will begin its rollout in July.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher announced the new funding on Monday as the Australian government prepares to pass the amended Digital ID Bill in the lower house this week.

The 2024-2025 funding will be used to run pilots with the private sector and develop infrastructure, regulation and security. Businesses will be able to participate in the scheme within two years of the bill’s passage, according to trade publication Innovation Australia.

The bulk of the funding, AU$156 million (US$103.3 million), will be spent by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) over two years to upgrade the myGovID platform to allow users to securely access government services on behalf of a business using a digital ID. myGovID will also be rebranded as myID to avoid confusion with the myGov platform.

Another AU$23.4 million (US$15.5 million) will be spent to upgrade the encryption of the myGov and myGovID platforms.

Other agencies included in the budget are the Australian Treasury charged with establishing data standards for the digital ID scheme, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation which will perform digital ID security assessments. Services Australia will act as the system’s administrator for the scheme and upgrade its identity exchange which enables transactions across the digital ID system while ensuring personal information is not visible to service providers.

According to the Digital ID Bill, Services Australia will also serve regulatory functions. Other regulators of the digital ID scheme include the Australian Information Commissioner and the Department of Finance which were also included in this year’s budget.

The digital ID project previously received AU$145.5 million (US$96.3 million) in funding from the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) for the years 2023 to 2024.

The current federal funding will also support another important project to prevent data breaches and identity fraud. The Attorney-General’s Department will receive AU$11 million (US$7.2 million) over four years to upgrade the Credential Protection Register designed to protect those whose identities have been compromised after the 2022 Optus data breach. The funding will be used to design a smartphone app that alerts citizens if a fraudster attempts to use stolen identity credentials.

Northern Territory to introduce digital driver licenses

Northern Territory will become the fifth jurisdiction to roll out mobile driver licenses (mDLs) in Australia.

The government plans to allocate AU$20.6 million (US$13.6 million) in funding for the project which was revealed last Saturday. The Northern Territory government has already begun development while pilots are expected in 2025, Innovation Australia reports.

The government plans to integrate the digital driver’s license with the Banned Drinker Register, a list of people banned from buying takeaway alcohol and other government systems.

Digital licenses have been introduced in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. This week, Victoria also began its rollout.

Last year, Western Australia hinted at the desire to develop more digital credentials such as boat and fishing licenses but no updates have been provided since.

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