Federal government pushing ahead with opt-in digital ID system

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The federal government is taking its plans for an opt-in digital ID system to the private sector for feedback, offering the potential of a nationally-consistent tool for Australians to prove their identities online.

Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor will announce plans to approach industry for expert feedback on standards for the project in Wollongong on Thursday, as it seeks a workable and well-developed framework ahead of wider testing.

The move comes as the government seeks drivers' license data and photos from state and territory governments as part of its efforts to build a national database for anti-terror strategies.

Currently in beta testing phase, the proposed opt-in digital identification system is planned for use in government services and by the private sector, through the new $40 million Govpass platform, a secure system being developed by the government's Digital Transformation Agency.

It seeks to replicate in-person proof of ID processes online, saving users time and improving convenience.

The system also has the potential to reduce the number of usernames and passwords and could be used in the future for banking, utilities and other online services and financial transactions.


"We've been working with key stakeholders, including government, industry and privacy advocates over the past 12 months to draft this framework," Mr Taylor said.

"It includes robust rules for accrediting identity providers and standards to prove an identity.

"It lays out privacy, security, risk and fraud management requirements, as well as standards for usability and accessibility."

Govpass is currently being tested on the Australian Taxation Office's new online tax file number application service, which is also currently in the beta testing phase.

It would see some the 750,000 tax file number applications processes every year brought online, removing the need for visits to Australia Post outlets and Centrelink shopfronts, and brining the 40 day process down to just a few minutes.

The government expects Govpass will be ready for testing on a larger number of users and services by mid-2018.

Described as a "federation of identity providers", the project uses double-blind architecture to remove the need for service providers to access original identity documents.

Specially created exchanges pass ID accreditation to the relevant the service, maintaining privacy for the user.

Users will have the choice to access the digital system and will be able to revoke their information and user records at any time.

Mr Taylor has broad ambitions for the projects, which he describes as vital to doing business in the modern digital economy and even as enables of widespread regulatory reform and competition policy in Australia.

"Govpass will solve one of the biggest barriers for the public in terms of doing business online with government - the ability for a user to easily prove who they are," Mr Taylor said.

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