The federal government is looking to bring on board multinational credit card company Mastercard as part of its move toward developing a digital identity and age verification system.
It said it was looking to offer ways for the federal government to achieve an online age verification system, after a parliamentary committee last year recommended one be introduced to curb minors accessing online pornography sites.
The company's Australasia president Richard Wormald said the partnership would provide the agency with insights by conducting a series of pilots that will observe the impacts on retailers' and consumers' experiences and expectations.
"Australians are increasingly expecting no disruptions between their online and physical lives, and identity is an area that must keep pace with those expectations," Mr Wormald said.
"Public-private pilots have the potential to make it easier to use these verified identities securely, everywhere they travel."
The agency's trusted digital identity framework (TDIF) forms part of a government push to streamline the identity system.
It provides users with access to government services and benefits using a reusable digital identity without needing to present official forms each time.
The framework would allow third-party private providers to join onto the system too.
But privacy experts are warning the government needed to pull the brakes on implementing without input from tech experts and the wider community.
Digital rights expert from Electronic Frontiers Australia Justin Warren said past experience had shown the government often began consultations long after plans had been drawn up.
Mr Warren said it was important users be given options to protect their privacy.
"There needs to be very clear lines drawn," he said.
"And [it needs] the ability to be able to prevent different groups from knowing things about me."
Mastercard's announcement follows a few months after eftpos revealed it was also seeking framework accreditation.
It has also been trialling an age verification service to prevent underage users purchasing alcohol products online.
The federal government provided its response in June to recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry into mandating age verification for online pornography and gambling.
It supported in principle the committee's six recommendations to expand digital identity services in order to stop minors accessing prohibited sites in its response, entitled "protecting the age of innocence".
"While there are no simple solutions to any online safety issue, technologies, such as age verification, age assurance, and age prediction, are developing at pace," the government's response said.
"If used in conjunction with filtering and other proactive user safety settings, they can play a role in limiting exposure to harmful content for children."
The UK government similarly introduced laws mandating age verification tools for pornography sites but eventually dumped the program and did not enforce it.
Mr Warren said there was no clear reason why the government was pursuing a social issue that should be left to enforcement by parents or guardians.
"We can use the same solutions we already have, which is responsible adult supervision," he said.
"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, obvious and wrong.
"And this is one of them - they haven't clearly defined the problem that they're actually trying to solve.
"If I were to be cynical, I would say it is because of puritanical, neo-Victorian attitudes towards sexual health, which should have no place in Australia."
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