The federal government has failed to meet its own commitment to introduce legislation to underpin its digital identity program this year, but has called on private companies to express interest in participating in the scheme regardless.
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has been leading the development of the Digital Identity Legislation for more than a year, and has completed two rounds of consultation.
Despite the legislation being listed by the government to be introduced during the recent Spring sittings of parliament, it was nowhere to be seen. The Coalition will now be racing against time to pass the bill before the upcoming federal election.
There are only 10 sitting days in the first half of next year, with a federal election to take place by May. Three of these sitting days have been set aside for the budget, leaving only seven days for the digital identity legislation to be introduced, debated and potentially passed.
The legislation is crucial to the government’s digital identity plans. The bill allows for the expansion of the digital identity scheme to state and territory governments and the private sector, enshrines privacy and consumer protections in law and establishes permanent governance arrangements and a regulatory regime.
The Coalition has been trying to establish a whole-of-government federal program to provide identity verification across a range of government services and private sector offerings for six years, at a cost of more than $450 million.
While the first private company – OCR Labs – was this year accredited to be in the scheme, it cannot start offering digital identity services until the legislation is passed into law.
Eftpos was also recently accredited as a digital exchange provider, while Mastercard has flagged that it has applied for accreditation.
While this consultation closed at the end of October, the final version of the bill is yet to be unveiled or introduced to Parliament, despite plans to have it passed this year.
In the meantime, the DTA has called for expressions of interest from private sector companies looking to obtain accreditation and participate in the scheme. This will be open until the start of March next year.
Employment minister Stuart Robert said this will help to raise awareness of the digital ID play and the accreditation system.
“By registering their interest, businesses will open a direct pathway into the government’s digital identity program – enabling them to find out how the system might benefit their business and customers, how and when they can participate in the system, and how they canc contribute to the governance and operation of the system,” Mr Robert said.
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