Digital identity services are critical to trust, particularly in cyberspace, according to New South Wales Digital Government minister Victor Dominello.
In the context of what he describes as a post-globalised world and increasing losses to scams, Mr Dominello on Tuesday highlighted that trust “will attract a valuable premium” in trade both within Australia and internationally.
Speaking at the Australian Financial Review’s Government Services Summit, Mr Dominello invoked the “trust trinity” to outline the need to define who digital identity is for, what the uses of digital credentials are, and why Australians should continue to trust governments delivering digital services.
While in autocracies “the states gobble up as much data as they can”, Mr Dominello said that democracies must focus on empowering the individual with the trust trinity. He also added that trust in government is eroded when the quality of service is poor.
“The really difficult challenge is to stay the distance. Too often in government, we look at the individual as a one off, which then translates to a transaction. But more often than not, people are on a journey. They will need to deal with a number of government agencies and non-government organisations,” Mr Dominello said.
“And here’s the essential evolutionary leap in government thinking on service delivery: it must rotate and evolve around the customer – not the other way round. The customer is the sun.”
Mr Dominello noted that while he may still trust his physical next-door neighbours, he doesn’t trust all of his “proverbial world-wide neighbours on the world wide web”. He also added that a government issued digital identity is not the same someone’s personal identity.
“No government can ever give you ‘your identity’. For identity is so deeply personal. It is far more than a few details on your passport, your birth certificate or driver’s licence…governments have no place in personal identity,” Mr Dominello said.
“What Governments can do is issue a digital ID, which enhances the trust settings as people transact and more broadly engage in the digital world.”
The New South Wales government is currently working to introduce an education wallet, with first aid certificates to be digitalised in the next few months. Pilots for people to add high school certificates to their education wallet will be available by the end of the year. A digital version of the ‘My Personal Health Record’ (or Blue Book) for children will also be integrated into the NSW Health patient app.
The problem with existing licencing, certification, and identity practices for Mr Dominello is the lack of control individuals have over their data, particularly with physical documents. He said copies of physical documents may be stored in a “back-office computer with laxed security linked to the cloud” and could be easily compromised.
“A digital ID provides far greater privacy and security protections in a digital world. Not only does it mean photocopies of your private information aren’t stored away in filing cabinets or the cloud, but also allows you to decide what information you do share,” Mr Dominello said.
“It is also the gateway for seamless service delivery between agencies and organisations alike. Which must be the goal of modern government service delivery.”
In May, Mr Dominello said that digital identity is the number one priority of Service NSW and described it as a golden digital thread that would “significantly reduce risks around cyber” if implemented with adequate protections.
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